|Salmon of the West|
Why are salmon in trouble? - Hatchery Practices
hatcheries were originally built to replace runs of salmon whose natural
habitats were either lost behind impassable dams or disturbed to the
point that they could not sustain natural production. Hatchery programs
were designed to replace lost fisheries. As a result, hatcheries produced
large numbers of juvenile salmon for release without fully understanding
how they would compete with wild salmon for food and habitat.
As hatchery and wild fish stocks mixed together, larger hatchery populations masked declines in wild fish populations, resulting in delayed changes in management practices to protect wild fish.
Modern hatchery and fishery management programs recognize these problems and are designed to minimize these impacts. Today, hatchery roles and responsibilities have broadened beyond producing fish for sport, tribal and commercial harvest to ensuring that their programs are compatible with conserving wild and naturally spawning fish. We are creating new roles for hatcheries that include conserving and protecting genetic reserves of unique stocks of fish, developing hatchery stocks that more closely imitate wild stocks in their genetics and behavior and using appropriate stocks in rebuilding runs of salmon to spawn in the wild.