Hatchery Policy to Determine Future of Wild Salmon Runs

You may have seen our billboards up in Sacramento (on I-80 East near Leisuretown), Seattle (corner of 4th and Cherry), and Portland (corner of Burnside and NW 22nd).

Whether or not you've seen the billboards, you should visit the Why Wild website to learn:

  • Why wild salmon are special and important
  • Why a proposed federal hatchery policy does not protect wild salmon
  • What you can to restore protections to wild salmon.

A recent press release:

Public to Weigh in on Future of Wild Salmon Runs

Protected status of 27 Pacific salmon and steelhead stocks - a dozen here in Washington - in play as feds decide whether to count hatchery and wild fish as equals under the law.


David Moryc, American Rivers: cell: 503-307-1137, office: 503-827-8648

Alan Moore, Trout Unlimited: 503-827-5700 x.10

Jeremy Brown, Washington Trollers Association: 360-715-3717

Kristin Boyles, Earthjustice: 206-343-7340 X33

Ramon Vanden Brulle, Washington Trout; 425-788-1167

(SEATTLE, Wa.) - The public will speak out on Tuesday night at a federal hearing in Seattle which will focus on sweeping policy changes proposed by the Bush Administration that could reduce protections for native wild salmon and steelhead runs now listed under the Endangered Species Act. The hearing runs from 6:30-9:30 p.m. on Tue, Oct. 5 at the SeaTac Radisson Hotel, 17001 Pacific Highway South.

In June, NOAA Fisheries proposed its new policies, which would allow the agency to include or "count" hatchery-raised fish alongside wild fish when determining the health of salmon and steelhead runs. The policy leaves the door open for stripping protections from wild stocks and maintaining fisheries mostly, or completely, through hatcheries.

The policy has been condemned by scientists, fishers and editorial writers across the Northwest. The critics include prominent fisheries scientists who had been working with the government on hatchery policy until they saw their input would be ignored. The group then independently published its findings in the prestigious journal Science, detailing a case for the ecological dangers of the proposed policy, concluding "Hatchery fish should not be included as part of an ESU." (Science, March 2004). ESU, or Evolutionary Significant Unit, is a scientific term for a biologically unique salmon or steelhead run.

"It' s wrong on so many fronts it makes your head spin," remarked Trout Unlimited Western Conservation Director Jeff Curtis. "Any angler who's caught a wild fish knows you can't compare hatchery fish born in buckets and raised in concrete pools with wild fish that have evolved over millenia in native Northwest streams."

If protection for wild salmon decreases it spells trouble for hundreds of rivers and streams across the region.

"This isn't just about protecting endangered fish, it's about protecting the healthy streams and clean water we all need," said David Moryc of American Rivers. "This policy pretends we can pump our rivers full of hatchery fish, artificially inflating the numbers, then abdicate any responsibility to common sense land use and clean water protection."

Tuesday's hearing is part of a six-month public comment period on the administration' s proposal. The comment period ends October 20th.