Hatchery Experiment a Failureby Kaitlin Lovell
Guest Commentary, The Oregonian, August 29, 2003
The article "Coho story excites White House" (Aug. 13) missed one very significant chapter. While it is true that waves of mostly hatchery-produced coho have been returning in recent years, wild coho returns dropped 62 percent from last year and still teeter at less than 10 percent of historical abundance. As the biologist quoted correctly cautions, the next downturn could be many wild coho's last.
So why not just close the book on wild fish and pump out as many fish as we need from hatcheries? Because wild fish provide the blueprint hatcheries need for success.
As long as streams and oceans are part of the equation, the hatchery system's ultimate success as a recovery tool hinges on its ability to mimic as closely as possible the entire life experience of a wild fish, from gravel to grave.
The hatchery experiment remains an ongoing failure. Robust hatchery returns or no, the fact that wild fish meanwhile are blinking out means the system is far from recovered. No amount of hatchery "success" can mask a permanent failure to protect wild salmon and trout.
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