Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by freestoneangler, Nov 24, 2012.
Lets pray the Elwha gets a chance to be purely wild in its recovery!!!!
Amen to that brother.
The spring Chinook brood stock program has been going for about 20 yrs and the number of natural spawners has not increased significantly over that time. There are no fisheries on these fish (in US waters), sport or commercial. It amounts to little more than an expensive nutient enhancement program, and in my opinion, may well be hindering the recovery of the native stocks.
Hatcheries give us something tagible that we can see and touch, and so we like them. But if you want to have healthy wild runs of fish, I don't believe they are the answer. We have been trying it for over 100 yrs. and it hasn't worked very well. With more than 400 million salmon and steelhead smolts released every year in the NW, we should be swimming in fish, but we're not. It's time for a paradigm shift, we must put our need for immediate gratification aside and try something else, before it's too late.
P.S. I don't advocate for an end to hatcheries, they surely have their place, but not everywhere.
Hatcheries haven't worked very well at recovering wild fish stocks because that isn't how hatcheries have been programed or managed. Easily 99% of all hatchery production has been for the purpose of enhancing or supplementing fish harvest. And they've done that so well that hatchery harvest management has been responsible for the near extirpation, or complete extirpation, of numerous native wild populations. Hatcheries could be instrumental in fish recovery if they are dedicated to that purpose instead of harvest. However, that is a paradigm shift, and it's too early to conclude that it has been effective. But it has been done with Hood Canal summer chum. It is being done with Hood Canal steelhead. It is being done with HC chinook, but likely the wrong brood stock. Since these are new attempts, under a new paradigm, and not enough year classes of HC summer chum, for example, have returned yet. So it will still take some time to determine if the effort has been successful. There is no intrinsic practical reason why it can't be successful, but only results can inform that conclusion. And results take time.
Actually, theres a 48 hr "ceremonial netting" window on S. forK Nooksack spring chinook. I used to do the surveys for that population, and if there were 30 TRUE S. fork fish coming back each year, that would be a big number. THEN, theres the riverine sockeye GENETICALLY distinct in population and IHN FREE, that the tribes wont agree to manage for, AND the run of summer steelhead in that river that may be 100 fish tops. THe Nookie has gotten bent over and molested by logging practices and extreme mis management.
when the hatchery fish (snider creek) only make up 25% of the catch during the early season (according to the proponents of snider creek) it is not necessary.
i doubt the people involved in condor restoration want to be doing captive breeding as a first resort. unfortunately, we look at fish hatcheries as a first resort in most cases and there have been very few broodstock hatchery success stories versus the massive volumes of research showing the negatives of hatchery production of salmon and steelhead. broodstock hatcheries should be a last resort, not a harvest based program.
not specific to your post, but we keep hearing that we should manage some rivers for wild fish and plant the crap out of others by many in the sportfishing community. we hear that, and at the same time we continue hearing the questions of why the sol duc hatchery steelhead program was shut down. if the river with the healthiest wild run cannot be managed without hatcheries, where should we manage for wild fish?
The Sol Duc is still subject to EXTREME netting of said wild fish. Management wouldnt be an issue w/o the pressure from tribes gillnets. If it was only a CnR fishery you cant imagine how good the runs would be
Sorry Stilly, I was talking about the North fork spring Chinook that Charles referenced, I didn't make that clear in my post. I'm not sure but I don't believe the lummi's have had that ceremonial fishery the last few years. Yes the Nooksack has been raped over the years, but I still love her.
I didn’t personally oppose the Snider Creek hatchery program, but do regret using it as an example here. I guess we’ll all get to see whether the already healthy run of wild fish on the Sol Duc, gets even bigger without the brood stock program. If it grows at all (much less by 25%), I’ll be as happy as anyone here and more than happy to admit I was wrong.
As evidenced by the response of numerous posters; my point was more to the fact that regardless of the health (or more accurately) complete lack of health in a given system, supplementing or attempting to rebuild a lost run of fish with hatchery raised fish (even native origin brood stock) is usually frowned upon by members of this board. One member here, posted that he would rather see no fish at all, rather than hatchery origin ‘wild’ fish. That’s not the case with other species. I’m not aware of anyone complaining about Condor restoration or Pandas or Tigers bread in zoos, etc…
We have runs of Steelhead in this state, which are so small as to be almost extinct. When Biologists talk about captive breeding for species like Cheetahs, they worry that there aren’t enough individuals left in the population to have enough genetic diversity to maintain a healthy gene pool. I am not a biologist. I only ask what seems to be a logical question: Why is genetic diversity valued in all other species, but adding genes (to dying runs of fish) from other populations is so feared by some people?
Not to your point Chris (on Snider) but more to the point of the original post about rebuilding dying or dead runs. Can someone who opposes planting fish to restore a lost run of fish answer these questions:
1) How brood stock fish alter the genetics of a system?
2) Where do they get the different genes?
3) Why would it be better for there to be no fish at all?
4) Does concrete alter our genetic structure as well?
5) Could we put people suffering from genetic diseases into concrete raceways, thereby curing their ailments?
Sorry for being a smart-ass on the last two. Sometimes I just can’t help myself.
Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't the Boldt decision say 50% of the ANNUAL CATCH? I do not recall that it said anything about wild fish.
I believe that the pie is sliced three ways, Tribes, Commercial, and Sports fishers. The tribes have the Federal Government on their side, the Commercial fishers have the State on their side, and the Sporties have their fishing license fees on their side. Wonder who will win?
Anil, heres my view on the subject as a former fisheries bio and a person who deals with genetics every day
1) Each watershed, and more particularly each fork of each river etc have distinct characteristics that have driven the evolution of the strains of fish associated with that river system. While there be strains more fit in general, only THE NATIVE STRAIN of fish has has 1,000,000s (or 10,000s at least) of years to adapt to the intricacies of that watershed. Brood stocking fish from the same river does not significantly alter the genetics of the native strain, BUT artificial rearing of eggs produces such a drastically higher hatch out rate than does wild spawning(about a log order difference actually)that there are bound to be a higher percentage of "less fit" individuals born in the first place, these fish are then coddled in artificial environments of a hatchery and are not subject to the same environmental stressors that wild fish are (in stream predation, strength to hold and navigate strong currents etc) and as such, many more of these "less fit" individuals survive the critical 1st year in their natal streams before smolting and heading out (If broodstock hatchery fish were all released as unfed fry this would be negated, AND lower costs signinficantly, but then they cannot be adipose clipped for harvest) The "overall fitness" of hatchery fish being lower than native spawned fish is due to these factors and general overall lack of any selective pressures on fitness or immune system beyond being able to look to the surface for food and swim in a cirlce.
2) If broodstock fish are from a different watershed, then genes from fish not directly evolved to that water shed are introduced, thereby potentially lowering the overall fitness of all hatchery fish introduced, "DILUTING" the gene stock of all interbred fish theoretically reducing their ability to thrive in that river.... in a hatchery milt and eggs in a hatchery are distributed so as to try to maximize diversity, ie 1 males milt fertilized 5 females eggs ( at least thats how we did it at Kendall Creek, whatcom creek and other areas I worked at hatcheries and spawned steelhead and salmon) But even then, theres a very small founding population contributing all the genes, and over the course of a few generations youll see a "bottleneck" form, which is EXACTLY what happened to cheetas after the last ice age. They are basically all clones of each other and genetic diversity, fecundity etc are all in the toilet, and the cheetas are doomed to extinction in the next 2 centuries or so. If native strain broodstock fish are mixed with out of watershed stock, then INITIAL generations will have overall lower fitness rates, while 4th 5th etc generations will have an overall higher fitness rate, approaching that of native strains if these fisha re allowed to spawn naturally
3) It would NOT NOT NOT NOT be better if there were no fish at all, NO NO NO NO NO. Our coastal ecosystems are extremely dependant on salmon and the marine derived nitrogen their carcasses deliver to the ecosystem. They are a keystone species without which our whole ecosystem will irreversably suffer. People dont seem to understand that fact.
4) YES we live in a world where we have very few selective pressures in general. Many genetically "unfit" humans live long lives thanks to modern medicine and the social systems in place to help them. Without these aids, many many MANY people would die every day without passing on their genes and the dynamics of our genetic diversity would change.
5) WE DO THAT ALREADY. Medicines, fertility drugs, cancer treatments etc etc etc all defy the simplest of selective pressures allowing the less fit to live on and spread their genes. Its that simple
Thanks for your thoughtful response. I still have a few questions:
I’m still not sure why the less fit brood stock fish damage the wild run as a whole? (Putting aside fish from other systems) I believe I understood why they might be less fit, just not sure why their offspring potentially spawning with ‘pure’ wild fish would hurt the genetics or health of the run as a whole? In short, how do programs such as Snider (which was free$$) put undue stress on the existing fish. Or more importantly, how do less fit fish damage runs that don’t really exist anymore?
Maybe that’s the root of my question. I wish we had the choice between healthy wild fish populations and hatchery fish (like we do on the Sol Duc). I just don’t see the evidence with the pressure we put on these fish, that they could come back or survive without supplementation in most of the other rivers. We have high-seas netting, long lining, gill nets at river mouths, habitat degradation, etc… and all of us trying to catch them.
People are fond of saying things like: “if left alone, these fish will thrive”. They are probably right. I just don’t see any of these interests (including us) just flat leaving them alone. Given that we all want Steelhead, how do we reconcile declining numbers of fish, with increased pressure and decreased habitat?
Stilly, your post was very reasonable and practical. Many posters here are less so.
When people say idealistic things, I have a hard time listening to the rest of their arguments. We aren’t leaving these fish alone. I’m not, even the idealists are not (maybe they are but if they’re fishing for Steelhead they’re not). It’s not practical to expect others to do something you aren’t willing to do. I would rather focus on what we can do with the given set of users we have, than talk about how great Steelheading would be if only catch and release fly fishermen were allowed to fish for and manage them.
Anil, beyond genetic factors affecting the F1-F3 hybrid generations overall fitness, other things to consider would be
1) run timing and the competition for resources of offspring. If skamania hatchery fish spawn earlier than natives, then there is little to no mixing of genetics, and instead what you see is the creation of a new run of fish (this happened on the NF Stilly with summer runs that spawn up by Fortson and not in Deer creek, amongst other places) and then what happens is that the offspring compete with natives for in stream resources....which is a limiting factor, because our coastal rivers are actually very nutrient poor.
2) I was in favor of the snider creek program, purely because it was native stock genetics, but those same brood fish spawning naturally would have produced a statistically more fit offspring (albiet less of them) purely based on the selection factors listed above.
3) when F1-F3 hatchery/native hybrids spawn naturally, their offspring compete with pure native fish for resources
4) when hatchery fish spawn with a run timing similar to the natives, they compete for limited spawning gravel.
Remember also that EVENTUALLY the hybrid runs will show an overall fitness levels close to purely native runs, and it only takes about 5 generations. Its the low low low return #s from F1-F4 that really hurt any run affected by hybridization
multiple parts. the narrowing of the gene pool happens with the limited number of parents used and their impact on generations in the future. the effect of a limited number of parents increases year after year and generation after generation. genetics change due to selective pressure, and hatcheries change those selective pressures in massive ways. let's also not forget the increased fishing pressure and netting that happen when there are hatchery fish present. there is no harvest of wild fish now on the sol duc until feb 16th. do you think there will be more or less pressure if there are harvestable hatchery fish in the system. imagine this early winter if wdfw had not gone against their own policy and moved hoko fish into the bogachiel. the amount of netting in the early season would have had to reflect the lack of harvestable fish in the quillayute (with the calawah and sol duc's fish destroyed) and would have been reduced.
genetics and harvest are two parts of the puzzle. the third is the ecological effects of planting larger smolts in the river and high residualism rates (snider creek had very high residualism rates) have on the native steelhead spending two years in the rivers prior to smolting.
the combination of all three is a bad deal. when wild runs are large there is some ability to deal with them but as runs shrink they get progressively worse.
one person saying they would rather have no fish than restored runs that used hatchery fish to rescue extinct or almost extinct fish does not reflect the bulk of wild fish advocates who opposed hatcheries.
i'll continue to say that comparing rescue hatcheries with the common harvest based broodstock hatcheries (snider or oregon coast steelhead) is comparing apples to oranges. they are two different things. rescue hatcheries play a role in populations that are at risk of going extinct and are a lifeline while we work on the reasons for the decline. no broodstock hatchery will restore wild fish to a river that cannot support them.