Friday, January 22, 2010

Hatcheries Increase Salmon Runs

Though deep ecology inspired environmentalists will insist that hatchery salmon are not as good as the wild, the historic record of human technology enhancing, increasing, and sustaining natural resources (including the salmon ) is excellent.

This article from the Wall Street Journal reports on the increased salmon runs in Oregon, thanks to the hatcheries.

An excerpt.

“NEHALEM, Ore.—Adam Rice hasn't had a job since October. The 32-year-old carpenter is a victim of the region's housing slump, one of almost 130,000 Oregonians to tumble into the ranks of the unemployed in the past six months.

“But he is working hard to feed his family: on the river.

“This month, it's steelhead, the ocean-dwelling member of the rainbow trout family beginning its return migration to Oregon. Steelhead, along with Coho and Chinook salmon, have made a spectacular return to local streams in the past year, leaving sportsmen exultant and putting food on the tables of struggling Oregonians.

“The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife hatchery here has already surpassed last year's count of 1,400 steelhead. Fisheries manager Joe Watkins calculates his crew could take in as many as 3,000 steelhead before the run ends next month—fish that will spawn tens of thousands of juvenile "smolts" that will be released to swim downstream and mature in the Pacific.

“Numbers for other species are even more impressive. More than 680,000 Coho salmon returned to Oregon last year, double the number in 2007. The Coho run was so bountiful the ODFW called in volunteers to herd fish into hatchery pens. There were reports of creeks so choked with salmon, "you could literally walk across on the backs of Coho," said Grant McOmie, outdoors correspondent for a television news team in Portland.

“And ODFW forecasters expect more than half a million spring Chinook salmon to start swimming upstream in March, about two and half times 2009's run, and nearly four times what came home in 2007. That would be the biggest spring Chinook run since 1938, when Oregon began keeping records of returning Pacific fish.”