The Osprey Steelhead News Blog recently had a great post about an article on the Elwha dam removal and hatcheries.
"Instead managers and the tribe appear willing to abandon the notion that wild fish, in a pristine watershed can support sustainable well managed fisheries."
This quote seems to sum up my feelings about the over reliance on hatcheries not only on the Elwha but throughout the Pacific Northwest.
We seem to forget that wild fish can create abundant fisheries with little help from us.
What seems funny to me is that it is an odd year which means it is the biannual pink salmon run in Washington State. While pinks have far different habitat requirements than coho, chinook, and steelhead they show us what abundance looks like. Not only do they show us abundance but they are showing us that wild fish can colonize and fill habitat very quickly.
If you look at WDFW's SaSI reports you see that in 2002 there wasn't a pink salmon stock listed for the Green River. Now the Green has the largest pink salmon run in Puget Sound. A river with dams, major development, and superfund sites in the estuary gets a return of over two million pink salmon this summer.
Whether it is pinks, Oregon Coastal coho, Siletz summer steelhead, or Wind River summer steelhead the evidence of the ability of wild fish to recover in the absence of hatcheries is staring us in the face. It is too bad so many of those who make decisions ignore it.