SUPPORT ABUNDANT AND HEALTHY FISHERIES
Hatchery & Wild Coexist is a campaign highlighting the importance of fish hatcheries and the role they play in wild fish recovery and providing abundant fisheries. For decades hatcheries have provided important mitigation for the loss of naturally spawned salmon and steelhead while providing for fishing opportunity. They have helped ensure the ongoing existence of many salmon and steelhead runs and the fisheries they provide.
Hatcheries have been scapegoated by some as the cause of the decline of wild salmon and steelhead populations. That faulty premise has led to drastic reductions, and in several cases complete elimination, of hatchery supplementation in hopes of reviving wild fish numbers. It has also been a distraction from addressing the ongoing and actual causes of declining wild fish populations.
Hatcheries are not the cause of the decline of wild fish. The truth is that other factors have largely driven the declines in wild fish, including habitat, hydro, and overharvest. After years of hatchery cuts and budget reductions, recent scientific studies show removing hatchery fish does not, by itself, result in an increase in wild fish. Contrary to the false anti-hatchery narrative, evidence shows that well-managed hatcheries and wild fish recovery are not mutually exclusive.
Hatcheries can help increase the number of wild fish. Experience, substantiated by science, shows well-designed and properly implemented hatchery programs can help increase wild fish numbers. In fact, there are examples of where hatchery programs have been used to bring back runs that were on the brink of extinction. Hatcheries are an important option that when used properly result in healthy and abundant fisheries.
It is time to change the anti-hatchery narrative. History — and science — shows hatcheries can be operated consistent with wild fish recovery and abundance. Hatcheries are also critical to enjoying robust and healthy fisheries.
No. Hatchery & Wild Coexist strongly supports continued protection and enhancement of wild fish and the habitat they require. H&WC acknowledges that significant and often irreversible damage has been done to critical habitat making hatcheries a necessary and important factor in the future of west coast salmon and steelhead.
Yes. Updated and well-managed hatchery programs will make a significant difference in efforts to protect and restore wild fish, as well as improve cost effectiveness, return rates and quality of fish released.
No. There is extensive science about the effects of hatchery fish on wild fish. However, many of the studies showing negative effects failed to look at the population-level and have focused on hatcheries using outdated practices and non-native broodstock. Recent studies looking at the effect of modern hatchery practices at the population-level have shown a positive impact, or no measurable effect.
No. First-hand experience shows removing hatchery fish has not resulted in increases in wild fish abundance because hatchery fish were not the principal cause of decline. Hatcheries are a tool primarily used to supplement wild populations and mitigate the portion of natural production destroyed by the loss of habitat, access barriers (dams), overharvest, hydro impacts and predation.
Yes. A recent peer reviewed study from the Clackamas River shows that factors other than hatchery fish were the real problem.
No. Studies show hatchery and wild fish largely have the same diet in the natural environment. There is no evidence that hatchery salmon or steelhead actively feed on wild salmon or steelhead of the same age group.
Yes. Evidence shows that properly developed and implemented broodstock programs can increase harvest opportunity and not harm wild fish populations. In fact, broodstock programs have been used successfully to reestablish extinct populations and save wild runs.
Yes. In the short-term the goal of hatchery supplementation programs is to provide abundant harvestable fisheries and help amplify wild populations. The long-term goal is to reestablish abundant runs of naturally produced self-sustaining populations of salmon and steelhead returning to our Northwest streams, wherever possible.
No. Habitat destruction, access barriers, water pollution, predation and non-selective overharvest are the main reasons for their decline. Hatchery practices have improved significantly in recent decades – we need to see similar progress addressing the major factors limiting wild fish recovery.
Yes. Fish recovery experts have long recognized a significant reduction of marine derived nutrients (MDN) in low nutrient (oligotrophic) streams throughout the northwest caused by fewer naturally spawning fish in the system. Hatchery fish carcasses help increase the level of MDN which increases food availability and subsequent survival of juvenile salmon and steelhead and improves the overall health of the ecosystem.
Yes. These groups benefit financially from their anti-hatchery narrative by securing public funding – including through procedural lawsuits with no on-the-ground benefit to wild fish – and private donations to support their campaigns and organizations. They have been successful at furthering their agenda by cherry-picking scientific findings that support their anti-hatchery argument while ignoring science that does not.
Yes. There are numerous examples where hatchery fish have enhanced wild numbers, and in some cases, saved wild fish from extinction.