Sunday, April 12, 2009

Salmon, Wild or Hatcheries

It appears that the salmon season has been closed again and the solution might be to fully fund the hatcheries, although many are against them, as the human management of animals for food, recreation, and companionship is an ancient human practice and the hatcheries should be fully funded.

The California state department of Fish & Game has been doing this for a long time, as noted on their website:

“The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has been rearing and stocking fish in the inland waters of California since the late 1800s when new legislation required the restoration and preservation of fish in state waters. This legislation called for the newly formed California State Fish and Game Commission to establish “fish breederies” to stock and supply streams, lakes, and bays with both foreign and domestic fish. In the early 1900s, DFG assumed responsibility for the state for stocking hatchery trout into California lakes and rivers. Since 1945, DFG has assumed responsibility for the rearing and stocking of both inland and anadromous fish species at 21 hatcheries and planting bases located throughout the state. DFG currently stocks trout in high mountain lakes, low elevation reservoirs, and various streams and creeks throughout California. Salmon have been planted mostly in rivers and direct tributaries to the Pacific Ocean, with the exception of inland kokanee, coho, and Chinook salmon populations that have been planted in reservoirs for recreational fishing.

“In 2006, a lawsuit was filed by the Pacific Rivers Council and the Center for Biological Diversity against DFG claiming that DFG's fish stocking operation did not comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). In July, 2007, DFG was ordered by the Sacramento Superior Court to comply with CEQA regarding its fish stocking operations. DFG will be completing an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to comply with the court order. In order to create a more comprehensive document, the EIR will also address DFG hatchery operations and the issuance of Private Stocking Permits. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to serve as the co-lead for the joint EIR/Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and will evaluate the issuance of funds in support of DFG hatchery operations.

An article from this time a year ago indicated how much the hatcheries do to provide the salmon in the rivers.

An excerpt.

“A recent study indicates that wild salmon may account for just 10 percent of California's fall-run chinook salmon population, while the vast majority of the fish come from hatcheries. The findings are especially troubling in light of the disastrous decline in the population this year, which will probably force the closure of the 2008 season for commercial and recreational salmon fishing.

“The role of hatcheries in the management of salmon populations has been a contentious issue for many years. The new findings appear to support the idea that including artificially propagated fish in population estimates can mask declines in natural populations caused by a lack of suitable habitat.

"Our finding that 90 percent of the fish are from hatcheries surprised a lot of people," said Rachel Barnett-Johnson, a fisheries biologist with the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

“Barnett-Johnson and her coworkers published their results in the December 2007 issue of the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. The main focus of the paper is the development of a new technique for distinguishing between wild and hatchery-raised salmon. The researchers validated the technique and used it to estimate the percentage of wild fish among the fall-run chinook salmon caught by commercial fishing boats along the central California coast in 2002.”