No Good Will Come Of This [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: No Good Will Come Of This

07-24-2003, 12:13 AM
Good evening,
A disturbing article passed in front of the radar screen this Sunday last. It was an A.P. story in the July 20 issue of the Oregonian, page 11, titled "Non Native Fish swim in Washington Creek" There was no posted author, so I can not credit or quote same. Here is the article as printed;
Juvenile Atlantic Salmon turn up near a hatchery that breeds them for fish farms.
OLYMPIA- Several hundred juvenile Atlantic Salmon have been spoted in a Thurston County creek near a commercial hatchery that breeds the non-native species for fish farms, according to the State Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (Washington)
Concerns about Atlantic Salmon colonizing Pacific Northwest streams at the expense of Native fish have worried biologists and fishing intrests as the Salmon farming industry has grown explosively in recent years.
Scatter Creek, a tributary of the Chehalis River, is home to a healthy native Coho Salmon population.
The Atlantic Salmon - some as long as a foot - were spotted during a snorkeling survey of Scatter Creek last week.
"We don't know how long they've been the creek, frankly." said John Kerwin, the departments head hatchery offical.
Juvenile Salmon sometimes escape hatcheries through holes in screens as watter used to keep the fish alive is discharged into nearby creeks and streams, Kerwin said.
As many as 183 young Atlantic Salmon a year have have been found in downstream traps in the Chehalis River system, Kerwin said. However, no adult Atlantic Salmon have ever been caught attempting to return to the system.
The Scatter Creek Hatchery, opperated by Cypress Island Inc., Washington's dominant commerical farming opperation, is the only hatchery in the state currently producing Atlantic Salmon.
Although state officals don't know for sure where the young fish came from, the hatchery is the logical candidate, Kerwin said.
"Thats the first place we'll look" Kerwin said, "We are going to meet with them next week."
State biologists collected 17 of the fish for genetic testing and analysis.
The department and representitives of Cypress Island will work on a plan to remove the foreign fish, prevent future escapes from the hatchery, and step up monitoring for hatchery escapees, Kerwin said.
Washington law bans introduction of non-native fish into the states waters, but the law is aimed at willfull violators, Kerwin said.
Possible removal methods include hand netting the fish, electro-shocking the creek, or constructing a trap that would allow the Atlantic Salmon to be removed from the creek as they migrate downstream.
A telephone call to Cypress Island's Anacortes Headquaters wasn't immediately returned.
Cypress Islands Scatter Creek hatchery produces up to 3 million juvenile Atlantic Salmon a year for transfer to the companys eight net pen sites aroun Puget Sound, the department said. Those farms produce 11million to 14 million pounds of Salmon each year.

On a personal note, I boycott all farm raised Salmon, Trout, etc . I hope to see some feed-back on this one.

07-24-2003, 06:50 AM
DH - if you want those Atlantics out of your river, all you have to do it treat the river the same way the fine industries of New England did a bunch of decades back...

Becareful though, you might end up too much like us.

07-25-2003, 02:08 AM

A small news item in our local Mount Vernon newspaper (the Skagit Valley Herald) says that the juvinle Atlantic Salmon were idendified as from the private Scatter Creek Hatchery run by Cypress Island, Inc. The same small article also mentioned that a private hatchery in Southwest Washington that WDFW contracts with to raise steelhead has had to desroy 300,000 steelhead fingerlings because of having a viral outbreak in the hathery.

Don't know if you know this or not; but Washington state attempeted to introduce Atlantic Salmon to several Washington state rivers back in the 20's and 30's. Non of these efforts were successful and non ever produced a single returning adult. Hopefully, this will continue to be the case; expecially since no returning adult Atlantic Salmon have been found in the Chahalis river, which is what Scatter Creek empties into during the 7 years this hatchery has been in operation. I do get concerned about the smolts being in the creek though.

07-25-2003, 08:57 AM
do you know of any documentation on the failed attempts to plant Atlantics in Washington rivers? I would love to read about it.

07-25-2003, 04:36 PM

John Meyer the fisheries biologist of Olympic National Park told me about the failed Atlantic Salmon projects of years past about 11 years ago. He is based out of the park's offices in Port Angeles.

And since then I've read the same thing in several newspaper articles that were reporting on Atlantic Salmon fish farming in Washington state. Perhaps Smalma could provide the exact documentation on the attempts to introduce Atlantic Salmon to our state's waters.

Wish I could be more specific; but I have a bad habit of simply filing stuff away in memory and not writing down the needed reference info.

07-27-2003, 03:46 PM
DH, I hear you loud and clear. Atlantic salmon have been taken from rivers on Vancouver Island, and apparently, same old story, escapee's from a local fish farm.
I live in Thunder Bay Ontario. As you are all well aware, Steelhead were introduced to lake Superior some one hundred years ago. You would be hard pressed to find someone who believes this to be a bad thing. I, on the other hand believe that our own coster Brook trout have suffered greatly at least in recent years. There is greater conservation protection for the Steelhead, than for Brook trout in this WMU. Some Superior tributary's that I fish I hook rainbow during the summer at a ratio of about four or five to one with brook trout. The rivers connecting to Superior are not the best choices for trophy Brookies, with the exception of the Nipigon river and a couple of others. From the rivers close to Thunder Bay you would almost consider a 10" out of one of these to be a trophy size. I have caught all of my largest size Brookies, in the 12 to 14 inch size from much smaller creeks, further inland.
My point is to much introduction and at the expence of native species. I really don't care that it happened 100 or so years ago and that now the population is wild and self sustaining. This I know is not to popular a view. And some introduction, where rivers do not always have native trout, maybe o.k. Some of our small trout lakes have had bass introduced to them, and now those same lakes are known as bass lakes. Oh, sure there are still Speckled trout there, but they are not known as Bass lakes because people have been catching trout from them.
From my native NFLD there is a steelhead farm on the west coast, and guess what, yeah you guessed it, and now these Steelhead are running local rivers. Everyone loves it, a new species of trout to fish for, be careful what you wish for, at what expence is it there, the Atlantics or the sea run Brook Trout?
I have what I believe to be the best idea, and I am sure almost no one is going to agree here. Open season on all non-native species and better management of our native trout. As long as the non-natives are around in great numbers, there will be no better management of the natives. There is only so much water,food and spauning ground to go around. Had to vent .:mad: -yaffle

07-28-2003, 12:10 AM
Good evening,
I just droped Smalma a p.m., asking him for some insight on this particular matter. I feel I have a pretty good grasp of the damage that has been done over the course of the last 140+ years by persons, with or without there heads screwed on straight, when they unleash there particular venture on a system that has existed for alot longer than I would care to think. They have, whether they want to admit it or not, been given the most intense stewardship over an incredible ecosystem that does not need any more trouble. When I find information like this, blended into the back pages of a periodical, it needs to be brought to the fore front. Stewards need to be held accountable, and Regular Joe needs to feel comfortable that the product he is buying from Freds Frozen Food Warehouse World is not screwing up the stream that runs through his backyard.....
OK, so I AM sitting out on this branch ranting, it pi**es me off that this ca ca has to go on anywhere, and like yaffle said, It's the Native population that takes it on the chin.
I yeild the floor....

07-28-2003, 10:36 PM
Altantic Salmon have been released by the state (Washington) in anadromous waters twice (a number of times in various lakes). The first release was in 1951 when 3,871 fish @ 3/# were released in Chambers Cr (South Puget Sound) and again in 1980 when 7,021 released in April/May @ 20 to 30/# - this time in Minter Creek. No returning adults were ever seen.

The above and much more can be found at
It was written in 1999 so may be a little dated.

There has been a private hatchery raising Atlantics at the hatchery site in the article for a number of years (maybe since early 1980s). I'm sure that there likely have been "leakage" from it most years but as mentioned there have never been any wild Atlantics found in the system.

I have looked at a number of sport caught Altantics in North Puget Sound rivers over the years (mostly in the late 1990s) and even caught a fair number (perhaps 10 or so) while sea-run fishing. In every case they were all escaped fish from nets pens. Their stomachs were usually empty.

How much danger are they to our native fish? An interesting question whose answer depends in part on ones prespective. As with most exotics they are most like to establish a population where there is a vacuum - few native fish and/or degraded habitats. Our native species in the habitats in which they evolved will be at a competive advantage.

Clearly the availability of farm salmon on the market has effected the wild salmon market. The price/# of wild fish is generally actually lower than it was 20 years ago. Clearly this reduces the harvest pressure on our wild stocks. The 12 to 14 million pounds of salmon sold by this one grower would represent a couple million wild salmon that weren't harvested.

Does that postive(?) outweigh the negatives? Probably depends on your concern about other potential impacts. The largest impacts that I have seen in the literature is the impacts of sea-lice on wild pinks that pass near the holding pens.

The other potential impact that is now recieving some interest is the impacts on the harvest of forage fish (sardines) to use in the manufatory of pellets to feed the Atlantics. Some beleive that such use of that resource is wasteful. Can't say that I would disagree with that position. However it is no different that using corn etc to fatten cattle. If you wish to knock the pen reared fish on those grounds then should consider giving up grain fatten beef. While you are at might want to give up french fries - potatoes grown in a desert using valuable Columbia River water, vegetables and rice from centeral California etc.

Bottom line the pen farming of Atlantic salmon is likely here to stay. We as a society seen to like the convenience of ready available fresh salmon at cheap prices. For those of us who care about our native salmonids the best protection is the maintenance of heathy stocks of fish and productive habitats for them. That would position our wild stocks so they will be successful in minimizing the chance of Altantics successfully establsihing a foothold in our rivers.

Deerhawk the damage caused to our ecosystem has in large been done by special interest groups that continually rely on the apathy of the public - in this case we the anglers. Just another example of the great Amercian system where our stewardship is lead by the "monied" squeaky-wheels. As long as we confine our crapping to the river banks and electronic discussions we'll continue to get ca ca for stewardship.

Until we collective become informed and involved we'll never be a "squeaky wheel" that shapes management and stewardship that is responsive to the resource we all care about.

I'll get off my soapbox now.

Tight lines

07-28-2003, 10:51 PM

there are many examples of exotics displacing natives (I'm not a fish biologist), so I wonder why you consider the native fish better adapted than Atlantics. Sounds nice, but given that environments change faster than evolution occurs, invasion is always faster (and in many places, is winning).

I can cite numerous examples from the plant world, but again, I'm no fish biologist

07-29-2003, 12:01 AM
Loco_alto -
Common sense, clear thinking and the ability to observe our surroundings is not dependent on biological training thus your observations are at least as valid as mine.

While not always the case most of the time when exotics replace native species it has been in environments that have been alter by man activities or in habitats where the exotic found unfilled niches or for some other reason where at a selective advantage to exisitng native species.

In the case of the Altantic salmon in the PNW the evidence is that over the last century with millions of fish release they have not been able to establish any populations. That would seem to indicate that Altantics are at some disadvantage to our native speices and have not found any fo the above cases. Likely as they leave the rivers they are not programed to find the finding grounds (hard to find the feeding grounds off Greenland from here). If we can maintain there selective disadvantage at every life stage through severe competition by our native stocks we we'll likely minimize the potential of their successful colonization of local habitats. Thus my belief that our best insurance is robust escapements of the full array of our native salmonids in as intact habitats as we can mustard.

Tight lines

07-29-2003, 12:10 PM
Thanks Smalma,

Very interesting reading and it helped to alleviate some of my fears on Atlantics spawning in our rivers. But, this brings up another question sort of related. I believe I have read of Pacific salmon being successfully planted in Atlantic coast rivers. What do our Pacific salmon have that Atlantics donít that enable them to survive in Atlantic coast rivers?

07-29-2003, 09:07 PM

Thank you for providing the missing source citations.