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