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Mattb 04-29-2004 11:34 AM

Hatchery Salmon are now wild?
See the article here(msnbc).

It seems to me that what this really amounts to is an end-run around the endangered species act, but I'm not very well informed about the situation with pacific salmon.

What's everyone's take on this?

sean 04-29-2004 12:00 PM

I think it is a cop out and not the best for the fish.


In that ruling, U.S. District Judge Michael R. Hogan found that the federal government made a mistake by counting only wild fish -- and not genetically similar hatchery fish -- when it listed coastal coho salmon for protection.
The thing is these fish are not genetically similiar enough. Most of the hatchery fish do not come from the rivers they are dumped into and while they might look the same they have not evolved to survive in that specific river system as their native counterparts.

Plus these fish are not self-sustaining like their native brethern which I think is the real key. So if you use the hatchery+wild numbers things look great but once you cease hatchery operations you are back down to the remaining native fish which are really depressed in almost every river system in the Northwest. Hatchery fish do not have a good track record when it comes to being able to reproduce in the wild.

Over the past few years we have heard and witnessed huge fish returns but when you really start looking into the numbers it seems in most cases the wild portion of these runs are on their way down. For instance Native Columbia River Chinook are on a steady decline while the returning fish numbers are up due to good hatchery returns.

Now if these hatcheries went broodstock with the actual native fish used then you may be able to make a better argument but I do not see that happening anytime soon and even broodstock hatcheries have shown to not be all that effective.

So it seems we are at a crossroads. Do we stick with hatcheries forever or try to revive the real natives. Seems the government is making this decision for us:(


juro 04-29-2004 12:14 PM

Great news! So I guess this means all the stunted ripple finned tiger trout should be counted as wild brookies in New England, therefore eliminating the need to protect natives.

And while we're at it, the brood stock salmon we dump into the Merrimac and Connnecticut Rivers are hereby native, therefore we can declare victory in restoring the once bountiful atlantic salmon runs in the US.

Absolutely ludicrous, typical political rationalization to justify some manipulative scheme to reduce spending on preservation, increase profitability of good ol' boy network buddies (Intalco, Plum Creek etc), harvest the remaining single digit percentages of old growth forest, or otherwise screw those who give a damn about the fragments of wild America that cling on for dear life.


John Desjardins 04-29-2004 12:24 PM

The least controversial comment I can add is "Remember this in November".

beau purvis 04-29-2004 12:36 PM

This kind of news perpetuates the problem.For years we have set fishing quotas based on big hatchery returns. this means the native stks are hammered harder and longer while boats attempt to fill those quotas.Same thing happened on the Solduck when they added hatchery fish initially. the returns were high.therefore the pressure was allowed to increase. word got out that catches were high.therefore more people fished there.This meant more chance that natives would be caught,especially the early season natives that were in the river at same time as hatchery fish. therefore ,more of them were killed and now hardly any of them exist.The bull-- continues and the cycle keeps going the same direction. Washington has ,for my life,had the dumbest fisheries management of any state or province I have ever been around!!!!If we could move Texas Parks and Wildlife up there and give them a free hand ,things would get better.My dad was a washington state senator and I was a page boy during the legislature sessions when I was in the 7th and 9th grades.I quickly became aware of the fact that the legislators were mostly idiots when I was a 7th grader!!!!! Beau

flytyer 04-29-2004 03:39 PM

Let us not forget that this declaration of hatchery Pacific Salmon being identical genetically to wild Pacific Salmon was made by a U.S District Court Judge, and it was upheld by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Also, let us not forget that the legal defense group mentioned in the article has already put California, Oregon, Washington, Oregon, and the NMFS (and NOAA) on notice that if they don't change the fishing laws, and delist or change the status of the wild Pacific Salmon, they will be filing more lawsuits to force the change. Keep in mind they will use the Oregon Federal District Court's ruling to make their case, and it will be difficult to get another judge to go against the Oregon judge's ruling. We already know that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled the Oregon Federal Judge was correct in his ruling.

Therefore, one more time, we have had an appointed for life U.S. judge "invent science" or law and make a ruling (which remember has the force of law through out the PNW states because of the 9Th Circuits Court's ruling in agreement).

It matters not which administration is in office in DC, not does it matter who the governor is in each of the states effected, nor does it matter who the legislators are when a U.S District Court Judge and a U.S. Court of Appeals covering the states effected makes a ruling we don't like. A federal judge is not subject to recall by the voters, he can only be impeached by the House of Representative, and removed after a trial by the Senate, and this is an extremely unlikely event.

Oh yeah, the judge who made the ruling was appointed by the Clinton administration, just like judge Bolt (who is so beloved by Washington state fishers) was appointed by LBJ and both of those administrations were "environmentally friendly".

juro 04-29-2004 06:55 PM

If I read your post correctly, are you saying the feds are to blame and it does no good to vote for environmentally friendly presidents?

kjackson 04-29-2004 07:56 PM

It's time for a reality check...
Well said, flytyer. All of the hoopla about how this ruling is Bush's fault that I've seen on various boards is bunk. Those folks must have been sleeping in civics class (or whatever it's called now) or out fishing. The judicial branch of the government has ruled, and we have to live with it. The "we" includes both the administration and the public.

What we can do is hold politicians' collective feet to the fire to make sure that hatcheries are really turning out fish that are equal or nearly so with wild fish (and I'm not talking about the cement race-track zombies here) AND make sure that habitat restoration doesn't get sidetracked. Hatchery reform is a must if we have to live with the Hogan ruling.

All the hair-pulling I've read makes me wish those individuals could direct that energy to doing something useful.

One thing I do believe firmly is that the salmon and steelhead species are resilient natural animals that can recover. All you have to do is look at the return of steelhead and salmon to the Toutle system after St. Helens blew. It took a couple of years to see, but the runs did come back without much help from us. Wild fish will return to our rivers eventually if we leave them alone. Sure, we've lost genetic material of wild fish, and the same thing is happening in wild, pristine systems without man's interference. It's called selection, for those who skipped biology to go fishing.

As far as Bush goes, the man has made some good points from a conservation/fishing standpoint. He's also made some bad decisions as well. This isn't one of them-- he had nothing to do with the Hogan ruling. I applaud the idea that his administration is moving on-- there is little the executive branch can do to change a ruling of the judicial branch. If we can keep NOAA and the states improving hatcheries and the stock that they plant, then we may actually be ahead of the game.

My $.03


juro 04-29-2004 08:58 PM

I am of the opinion that hatcheries are a necessary evil, but an evil just the same. And not all that necessary either.

Natural selection is just that - natural. Human induced selection however is not natural at all, eccentric to the cycles of nature fed with anti-biotics and chemically formulated pellets to raise fish 3x their natural counterparts with no sense of territorial bounds when pumped by the millions into river systems with snapping jaws eating alevin and fry of their brethren who are trying to exist naturally, ultimately resulting in artificial populations of drones who don't even have an urge to dig a redd.

Considering hatchery fish as equals to native fish is IMHO nothing more than delusional human rationalization for some financial, political or otherwise dishonorable agenda.


Leland Miyawaki 04-29-2004 09:19 PM

This is the Bush administration watering down our environmental protection laws in order to favor business and big money.

Wild salmon need protected watersheds and clean waters. Hatchery fish do not, plain and simple.


kjackson 04-29-2004 09:31 PM

Juro-- I think that is why hatchery reform is so necessary. We've been turning out smolts that outcompete their wild brethren because of their increased size as well as their staggering numbers. But what if we could turn out hatchery fish that augmented natural production with fish much like wild smolts? If they're the same genetic stock, then I support that move.

I'm not as up to speed on hatchery science as perhaps I should be to comment, but it's my understanding that we can do a much better job than we have in everything from stock selection to culture. We have much of the knowledge but we lack the will and the money.

Having read the King of Fish about the fall of salmon, I believe that we've got to do much more than just close hatcheries to restore wild runs. We don't have the habitat in many of our rivers that these fish have adapted to... and without that habitat, healthy wild runs of salmon and steelhead naturally produced are unlikely to occur in our lifetimes.

But after Hogan's ruling was let stand, the question becomes one of what can we do to make hatcheries better? The alternative to better hatcheries that produce smolts better adapted to natural conditions is to close ALL hatcheries, making wild fish the only stock in the rivers. If that happens, it's likely that much of the fishing we now enjoy will be prohibited. We'll lose fishing, lose fishermen, lose fishing infrastructure. I doubt that full recovery would happen as quickly in most systems as it did in the Toutle, and if that is the scenario, then things indeed are bleak.


beau purvis 04-29-2004 09:52 PM

not only are hatchery fish not equal to wild, but as I stated above there is tremendous evidence that over time they do harm to the native runs.How smart is it to spend money to raise fish that help wipe out the superior fish that are free!!
In my life it has always been the judge,or the governor, or the mayor of forks,or the nets favored by the legislature, or the dams,or slade gordon stalling removal of the Elwa dams,or the quick fix hatcheries to make it look like someone is doing good,only to have them turn out crap fish and add to the decline of the wild fish.My entire fishing life, of say 50 yrs, of one mistake after another!And you know what must be one of the biggest problems.The fishing community never seemed to get organized enough to stop this trend.all the groups fight among themselves!Take the WSC and the town of forks!Still going on!The fly boys vs the gear boys.Kush is right! when the trend continues so long everyone interested in the resource needs to figure out a way to pull together.Beau

beau purvis 04-29-2004 10:02 PM

P.S.,for that 50 yrs of my fishing life everyone has held on to the belief and hope that hatcheries were the savior.they turned out to be the trojan horse in my opinion. except for an initial burst at the beginning of programs.then the offspring start a downhill slide and the wild fish do the same.Beau

flytyer 04-29-2004 10:15 PM


No, the feds are not to blame, the blame for this mess (re: hatchery fish being genetically identical to wild fish) lays solely with a federal district court judge by the name of Hogan.


The judge ruled that the fish were identical genetically and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed earlier this year. the Bush administration had nothing to do with it, as Keith already pointed out. It was a federal judge, who was appointed by Clinton and affirmed by the Senate, that said it and changed environmental law with his decision. Since his decision was affirmed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the decision effects all states within the 9th Circuit Court's jusridiction. This means that California, Oregon,. Washington, Idaho, and Alaska must abide by the single judges ruling and change their policies and laws to reflect it. It also means that the NMFS and NOAA have to change their policies and rules on Pacific Salmon to comply with the ruling as well.

Remember, this judge was appointed for life by the environmentally friendly President Clinton. And three the 9th circuit judges were appointed by President Clinton too. Also, remember that when a judge makes a ruling and the ruling is appealed and upheld by the higher court, it becomes the law and the judicial ruling (law) overrides any legislation or laws that were enacted by state legislatures or Congress. This includes any prior ruling that a species is endangered or threatened.

The maddening part about this is that no legislative body can change what the judge did. We and the feds and state fisheries managers must live with it. The only way it can be changed is through having another federal district court judge rule hatchery and wild fish are not genetically identical. This is highly unlikely, and even if it did occur, the decision would be immediately appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the probability of the 9th circuit overturning a prior ruling of theirs is nil.

The blame for this cannot be laid on Bush. The responsibility can only be laid on a single federal judge. Also keep in mind that Democrats in the Senate have prevented through filibusters on votes to affirm al the l Bush federal judicial choices for the last 2 years.

Welcome to the wonderful world of United States Case Law, which means the laws put into force by a non-elected federal judges that cannot be changed unless overturned by another judge.

Hammer 04-30-2004 12:29 AM

a loaded gun
i can here it going off,,super thread,,the coho are considered offlimits offshore,and of course the communities at the coast rely on tourist dollars;apparently quite a few salt fishers catch a dozen hatchery cohos,that,can't be kept,while trolling for chinook,and that HAS to be applying pressure,,the coho story,,man!,,,i'm still downloading info on THAT,,i was told they aren't even native to the watershed;the ODFW planted them in the 30's!,can't quite seem to unlock info from their sites,,,yet!!!,,i'm listening!,,er, reading,,,,next!,,great thread!:D,,,,,,,,,edit,,,,,,,,,,,,hold it ,,six experts gave their views,and got ran off,i'm chasing this!,,,i'll be back!

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