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Norm Dicks promotes wild salmon stocks



--- Quote ---Published August 22, 2007

Chester Allen

Too many hatchery salmon are spawning with wild salmon in the state's rivers, U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks said Tuesday, and their offspring are less likely to survive in the wild and return to the river as adults.

Dicks, a longtime salmon-recovery activist and environmentalist, brought his message to a state Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting in Olympia.

Recent studies and scientists in the Hatchery Scientific Review Group say that wild salmon should not spawn with hatchery fish, and wild fish should be used as the source of eggs and milt for hatchery fish, Dicks said.

"We have a chance now to go beyond just talking about this and doing something about it," Dicks told the commission. His appearance came one week after his son, David, a Seattle environmental lawyer, was appointed executive director of the Puget Sound Partnership by Gov. Chris Gregoire.

Biologists from the Hatchery Scientific Review Group, which has studied wild salmon breeding with hatchery salmon since 2000, agreed with Dicks.

Native salmon most fit

Wild salmon carry genes that help them make better use of the restored habitat in most rivers, said John Barr, group co-chairman.

Hatchery salmon often are originally from another river, and their genetic makeup is not as suited to survival in a different river.

Studies have shown that wild salmon runs quickly increase when fish from native stocks find better habitat in the river, Barr said.

"We get twice the benefit of habitat improvements by implementing hatchery reform," he said.

Barr, Dr. Lars Mobrand and Lee Blankenship told the commission that hatchery reform must include:

Marking all hatchery fish before they are released into the wild, which helps biologists see how many hatchery fish return a few years later.

Allowing anglers and commercial fishermen to keep the marked hatchery fish and requiring that they release unmarked wild fish to spawn. That is called a selective fishery, and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife has been pushing for increased use of it for years.

Keeping hatchery salmon off river spawning beds allows anglers to fish for salmon while allowing wild salmon stocks to rebuild.

Dicks and members of the hatchery review group found a receptive audience from the Fish and Wildlife Commission and leaders of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The commission oversees the state department.

Commission members want to work closely with Dicks to change hatchery operations as soon as possible, member Miranda Wecker said.

Changes in hatchery operations, as well as the use of selective fishing, will give anglers fish to keep and let wild fish spawn, Fish and Wildlife Director Jeff Koenings said.

Operations already have been changed and improved in some hatcheries, he said.

Funds, equipment needed

The issue now is getting the money and equipment to change hatchery operations and mark all hatchery fish produced in state, federal and tribal hatcheries.

Dicks, chairman of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, pledged to get more hatchery-reform money for the Northwest.

"Catching hatchery fish is a good thing," Dicks said. "We don't want them on the spawning grounds."
--- End quote ---

I have whined about a broodstock program for so long I almost forgot about it.
This is the best of both worlds. Oregon does this with alot of their rivers and their fishing kicks ass. I hope it's Salmon and Steelhead they are talking about. The hatcheries will be rearing biters and fighters instead of lock jawed *censored* fish.
Way to step up to the plate Norm.

 "Funds, equipment needed"

 Now there's the clincher. Just where do these funds come frome I wonder? You hit the nail on the head, that's why this has been a pipe dream for decades and why hatcheries have existed for over 100 years. I have seen result's of and been involved with some of these studies and do not agree with some of the conclusions. Hatchery fish (I know I've said this before) created an over 1 million strong run of Sockeye in the Green from only 2000 wild fish base run decades ago, primarily through straying. I will never believe straying hatchery fish lead to a weak run, that does not make any kind of sense given the naturally reproducing hatchery origin fish in the Green and that success story. A fish is a fish, it is HOW THEY ARE REARED that makes the only difference THE GENES ARE SCIENTIFICALLY THE SAME. A docile, weak fish is likely the product of pen rearing and late-stage hand feeding -that I believe. Does anyone else see the doubletalk in this? How can you have 'plenty of hatchery fish to catch, because we don't want them spawning anyway' and also 'use wild fish for hatchery spawning only' -not the exact words used, but that was the general point. So, the proposal is to put twice the damand on wild fish by using them as all broodstock AND natural spawning escapement sources? How is this different than the origin of current hatchery produced fish? THEY CAME FROM WILD FISH! I respect that Norm is active in fisheries and is requesting funds for these things, but he needs to dig deeper for himself and not let everyone person who labels themselves a scientist, or biologist blow smoke, well... I've worked with many bio's and scientist's and some truly have their heads planted.

D the sockeye runs you are talking about are about a stones throw away from one another. My problem is taking for example ( Skamania stock steelhead ) and planting them 200 miles away then using the fish that won't or don't bite year after year after year as broodstock. These fish are from a river that is small and travel very quickly through the system not staying in the main river long enough to get a viable fishery. Also why would you want a non native run breeding with a native run?  Native Wild broodstock is the way, and there are many hatcheries in oregon and a couple on the Washington coast that have proven this . The hatcheries will remain, they just get the eggs and milt from wild native fish

 I guess I'm not as familiar with the steelhead issues, mostly salmon. Here is an example study on a much larger scale than Washington that refutes the wild fish negatively affected by hatchery fish theory.



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