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.