Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Best Hatchery...

Northwest Voices - Elwha and Sol Duc

"Free-running rivers, always have been, always will be, the best hatchery."

"Hatcheries don’t mitigate dam devastation, they double it down."

Kudos to John Farrar for speaking out against damaging hatchery practices and for wild fisheries.  It is nice to see some guides speaking out.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Genetically Different

The common argument in favor of broodstock hatcheries is that the fish they put into the river are genetically the same as the native fish in the river.  These hatcheries use only wild fish for brood.

How genetically similar are these fish.  There is plenty of science stating that first generation hatchery fish are changed solely by being in the hatchery environment.

Taking away the changes from being raised in concrete, are wild broodstock a good place to start when looking to replicate wild genetics in a hatchery environment.  One study from Oregon shows how much we have to learn about wild steelhead and genetics.

Wild rainbow trout critical to the health of steelhead populations

This study shows that "up to 40 percent of the genes in returning steelhead came from wild rainbow trout, rather than other steelhead."  While the number may be higher in Hood River than in coastal rivers (it may be less) it shows how much genetic material is added by resident rainbows to the steelhead population.  Not only should this be a call for more restrictive regulations on trout fishing in all coastal rivers but it should make us rethink whether we can ever hope to recreate wild steelhead genes in a hatchery environment.  The Snider program on the Sol Duc is a prime example.  Like all hatcheries, they use a small number of adult wild steelhead to create many hatchery fish.  This narrows the gene pool in the returning hatchery fish which are allowed to spawn if not harvested (no trapping of returning hatchery adults happens) and pass that narrow gene pool on to future generations along with having reduced productivity.  If one of these hatchery X wild or hatchery X hatchery crosses returns and then is used as broodstock the genetics shrink even more.  By using only steelhead for the brood, one is excluding possibly 40% of the genes of the native fish.

We have a chance on the Sol Duc to remove a damaging hatchery program and designate the healthiest steelhead river left as a wild gene bank.  This is truly an opportunity we cannot miss out on.  We have until June 30th to send in our comments to  The Native Fish Society has also put together an easy way to support the removal of this damaging program.  Click the link below to comment.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Always Wrong

I attended the Snider Creek meeting in Forks earlier this week.  Testifying in favor of the guide welfare program was the city attorney of Forks.  I was reminded of a couple other fishery issues and the position Forks took (or pushed) and realized that they are always on the wrong side of the issue.

The wild steelhead retention moratorium was stopped because the City of Forks fought hard against it.  They were wrong as wild steelhead numbers continue their downward slide.

Then I remembered going to meetings regarding halibut when I ran a charter boat.  The City of Forks was actively pushing to open closed areas and start the season later in May.  All of the charter boats stated that these ideas would only work to shorten the season which wouldn't benefit anyone.  What happened since those rules were put in place.  First, the halibut fishery is often open for less than a week's worth of days compared to three weeks to a month when these meetings took place.   None of the charter boat captains who attended those meetings are running boats out of Neah Bay or La Push anymore.  Forks in this case was wrong again when it came to managing fisheries.

Now Forks is pushing to keep the Snider Creek broodstock hatchery program open without additional restrictions.  Seems to me we should look back at their history of being 100% wrong on fisheries management and totally disregard their opinion on this hatchery.

The City of Forks is incapable of making a good decision when it comes to our fisheries.

Also, how much of the Sol Duc runs through incorporated Forks?  None... which should be the amount of sway they have on this decision considering their past when it comes to fisheries.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lights Out

This morning at 8am the Elwha dams will no longer generate electricity.

One more step on the way to seeing the Elwha River flow free.

Elwha Dams stop generating electricity