Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Smoking Gun?

Okay guys are we in agreement that hatcheries are harmful to wild salmonid populations? Still not convinced huh?
Well don't take my word for it and why should you anyway? I am not a trained fisheries biologist but I do believe the science that the experts have come up with. You could counter almost every argument that I posted if you are in favor of robust and vibrant hatchery programs.
Would you argue with science? Maybe the following assessment BY THE EXPERTS will convince you.

ScienceDaily (June 13, 2009) — Steelhead trout that are originally bred in hatcheries are so genetically impaired that, even if they survive and reproduce in the wild, their offspring will also be significantly less successful at reproducing, according to a new study published today by researchers from Oregon State University.
The poor reproductive fitness – the ability to survive and reproduce – of the wild-born offspring of hatchery fish means that adding hatchery fish to wild populations may ultimately be hurting efforts to sustain those wild runs, scientists said.
The study found that a fish born in the wild as the offspring of two hatchery-reared steelhead averaged only 37 percent the reproductive fitness of a fish with two wild parents, and 87 percent the fitness if one parent was wild and one was from a hatchery. Most importantly, these differences were still detectable after a full generation of natural selection in the wild.
The effect of hatcheries on reproductive fitness in succeeding generations had been predicted in theory, experts say, but until now had never been demonstrated in actual field experiments.
"If anyone ever had any doubts about the genetic differences between hatchery and wild fish, the data are now pretty clear," said Michael Blouin, an OSU professor of zoology. "The effect is so strong that it carries over into the first wild-born generation. Even if fish are born in the wild and survive to reproduce, those adults that had hatchery parents still produce substantially fewer surviving offspring than those with wild parents. That's pretty remarkable."
An earlier report, published in 2007 in the journal Science, had already shown that hatchery fish that migrate to the ocean and return to spawn leave far fewer offspring than their wild relatives. The newest findings suggest the problem does not end there, but carries over into their wild-born descendants.
The implication, Blouin said, is that hatchery salmonids – many of which do survive to reproduce in the wild– could be gradually reducing the fitness of the wild populations with which they interbreed. Those hatchery fish provide one more hurdle to overcome in the goal of sustaining wild runs, along with problems caused by dams, loss or degradation of habitat, pollution, overfishing and other causes.
Aside from weakening the wild gene pool, the release of captive-bred fish also raises the risk of introducing diseases and increasing competition for limited resources, the report noted.
This research, which was just published in Biology Letters, was supported by grants from the Bonneville Power Administration and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. It was based on years of genetic analysis of thousands of steelhead trout in Oregon's Hood River, in field work dating back to 1991. Scientists have been able to genetically "fingerprint" three generations of returning fish to determine who their parents were, and whether or not they were wild or hatchery fish.
The underlying problem, experts say, is Darwinian natural selection.
Fish that do well in the safe, quiet world of the hatcheries are selected to be different than those that do well in a much more hostile and predatory real-world environment. Using wild fish as brood stock each year should lessen the problem, but it was just that type of hatchery fish that were used in the Hood River study. This demonstrates that even a single generation of hatchery culture can still have strong effects.
Although this study was done with steelhead trout, it would be reasonable to extrapolate its results to other salmonids, researchers said. It's less clear what the findings mean to the many other species that are now being bred in captivity in efforts to help wild populations recover, Blouin said, but it's possible that similar effects could be found.
Captive breeding is now a cornerstone of recovery efforts by conservation programs for many threatened or endangered species, the researchers noted in their report. Thousands of species may require captive breeding to prevent their extinction in the next 200 years – which makes it particularly important to find out if such programs will ultimately work. This study raises doubts.
"The message should be clear," the researchers wrote in their report's conclusion. "Captive breeding for reintroduction or supplementation can have a serious, long-term downside in some taxa, and so should not be considered as a panacea for the recovery of all endangered populations."

So you have to ask yourself is this the smoking gun? One would certainly think so but this study probably wouldn't convince many in Tillamook county because the hatchery addicition runs deep through many gernerations of anglers.
We see bogus "conservation" awards for those who put their efforts into increasing hatchery output and those efforts are bullshit! So instead of letting the opinions of a few knuckle draggers who post on and who believe that the the only way to fishing nirvana is dumping a "gazillion" hatchery smolt into the watershed (actual ifish quote) then read the science! It's all out there and easily your homework if you care to because you will find the smoking gun on dwindling wild salmon and steelhead.


Friday, December 24, 2010

The Bigger Picture

It's a given that we all love fly fishing. If you are reading this blog you have to love fly fishing at least a little or you wouldn't waste your time reading my mindless drivel would you? Well it's the same for me also. The joy I get from casting a fly to a trout or steelhead is hard to measure. I fear my sanity would suffer greatly if I could not get out on a river on a semi-regular basis.
All that aside though I believe that there is something larger than our angling pleasures....namely the effort to save what wild salmon, trout and steelhead we have left. We cannot sit idly by and just expect the wild salmonids in our river to always be there because that has never worked with anything in the past and our endangered cold water fisheries are on the brink.
We have to ask ourselves just how important is our passion for these things. Can you set aside your desire to have some excellent fly fishing in order to save a few wild trout or steelhead...can you? I am not putting myself or my conservation efforts above those of any of you that are reading this but I can assure that I would give up fishing a river like the Deschutes if I thought I could make a difference in the survival of a wild species like the redside rainbows. I could set aside fishing on the Metolius if it meant that the Bull trout would survive and I could quit tossing flies at coastal cutthroat trout on my favorite coastal river if the survival of these trout hung in the balance.
We cannot pin our hopes that state fish and wildlife agencies or the federal government to do what is necessary to make sure wild fish survive because their track record is piss poor.
Here we sit on the eve of a new year and still our wild cold water fisheries are in grave danger because of greed and mismangment and a lack of imagination of our fish and wildlife agencies. So I am hoping that each of you have a wonderful 2011 out on the river and I ask you to consider just one thing as you hold that beautiful trout or steelhead oout the water for your hero shot. Think about what it takes for that fish and other wild salmonids like it to survive and perpetuate their species. What could you sacrifice in 2011 to make that happen.
2011 will mark the fifth year I have shared my thoughts with you on this blog and I wanted to take the time to thank all of you who stop by the Quiet Pool for putting with my ranting and poor punctuation. Your feedback is what keeps it going.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of my fly fishing friends out there.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The World is Our Oyster

I was just browsing the mega Pacific northwest website and sometimes soap opera known as and reinforced. once again, my belief that sports anglers have to be among the most selfish and greedy bunch in the world. Everything from hatchery fish are our God given right to saying tough shit house boat owners the wake our water crafts put out is just something you are going to have deal with because we gotta a mess of fish to catch! Barbless hooks? forget it because it may cause me to catch less salmon.
In fairness though, is not the only place where this self serving, "Screw everyone else I gotta get mine" mentality exists on the world wide web. It's pretty much everywhere.
It will come off sounding overly pessimistic but I have deep fears and doubts that we will ever save what little wild salmon and steelhead there are left because we just have no desire to sacrifice anything in favor of our own greed.
My generation grew up with our parents giving us everything we wanted. I had all the latest toys and bikes etc. because my folks gave them to me but failed to instill any kind of charitable character traits. I'm sure most of you had similar childhoods. To overcome the "me first" attitude we had to struggle and force ourselves to actually care about something bigger than ourselves. It's still and effort for me!
Some my age never over came it and they have passed "The world is my oyster" mentality down to their own children.
Fishing for salmon and steelhead in this region has brought out the worst in people and they cannot wrap their pea brains around the notion that they can no longer kill and harvest everything and anything they want. When told that there are not enough returning fall chinook in several watersheds they are outraged.
I've bitched about the "Harvest Mentality" for most of the almost 5 years this blog has been in existence. I've singled out Tillamook county as the worst offender but in retrospect maybe that was unfair. Oh sure they own a lot of the blame for their piss poor attitude about wild fish issues but they are really not much different than anglers around the Portland metro area.
My brother recently asked me during a heated political debate what I have done to change things. In my defense I listed the activities I have been involved with for wild salmonids however if I were truthful I would have said I have not done enough. I guess the thing that bothers me most is not just the half-assed efforts of people like myself but those who think more hatchery fish, broodstock programs that rob wild salmon and steelhead of the eggs that are needed to perpetuate the wild spawning species. They actually think that what they do is necessary and they feel good about it.
Listen folks, and this may come as a shock to some of you, but the state of Oregon and Washington is not obligated to supply you or me with fish to kill especially at the expense of what few wild salmon and steelhead are left.
The world is not our oyster no matter what Falstaff may have said. We get out of it what efforts we put into it and sadly, when it comes to wild trout, salmon and steelhead those efforts and attitudes are lacking.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Well Hallelujah...Our Hatchery Troubles Are Over

A better hatchery salmon and steelhead huh? Wasn't that what they promised with the broodstock programs? Of course the harvest addicts will greet this as the best thing since sodium sulfite. Maybe if they make the tanks oval WDFW could draw in a bunch of NASCAR fans!!!!

From OregonLive
By  Eric Mortenson, The Oregonian

Call it another example of survival of the fittest.
Researchers experimenting with juvenile salmon and steelhead at a Washington fish hatchery say fish raised in circular tanks with a swift current are faster and tougher than fish raised in the commonly-used rectangular raceways.
The findings come from a pilot project at Eastbank Hatchery in Wenatchee, Wash., carried out by Chelan County Public Utility District, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Conservation Fund's Freshwater Institute. Researchers determined that fish raised in circular tanks migrated downstream faster upon release, reaching a checkpoint five days earlier than their brethren. More of them survived, as well -- 72 percent compared to 52 percent of fish raised in rectangular tanks, according to a Freshwater Institute news release. Also, the fish raised in circular tanks included fewer "mini-jacks," juvenile salmon that become sexually mature early and stay in freshwater rivers instead of migrating to the ocean. Researchers are concerned that hatchery-raised jack salmon can distort the genetic makeup of wild salmon over time.
Depending on the technology used, circular tanks can re-use up to 99 percent of the water in the system. The systems also collect waste and uneaten food, making them easier to keep clean, according to the Freshwater Institute. The institute, a non-profit based in West Virginia, advocates the sustainable use of water.
The findings are preliminary, but researchers are "extremely optimistic" that hatchery operations and water conservation efforts can complement each other, hatchery manager Joe Miller said in a news release. However, scrutiny is required because fish hatchery operations have a "history of unintended consequences" such as producing flawed fish, the news release said.
The research findings will be presented Dec. 7 at the Northwest Fish Culture conference in Portland.

--Eric Mortenson