We've all read these myths through the years on the internet and although they have been debunked these fantasies still crop up from time to time from the pro-hatchery and simple minded crowd.
Like anything else once a rumor gets started it is hard to make people realize that they are buying into false information. Just look at all the people who believe FOX News
Anyway here are just a few examples of the popular myths surrounding wild salmonids.
Wild fish conservation groups want to end fishing
This is the most common myth and is not true of course! We want reasonable and competent management of our wild salmonids by state agencies who are entrusted to be wise stewards of this resource. If we ever advocate for closure of any angling then you can bet it is for some very sound reasons.
Catch and release kill as many fish as does the use of bait:
Recent studies have measured the effects of various tackle and fishing techniques on fish mortality and offer insights for optimization of the protective aspects of catch and release fishing programs. The study data suggests that with the application of specific tackle types and selected fishing and handling techniques, the success of catch and release programs can be significantly improved. Recent data links the causes of catch and release angling mortality to all types of gear and techniques that increase the chances of 'deep-hooking' and elevated physiological stress. It is shown here that if a selection of fishery specific, mortality reducing techniques are applied, via angler education and fishing regulations, the conservation benefits of catch and release fishing can be optimized.
It's okay for hatchery fish and wild fish to spawn together:
Ian Fleming and Erik Peterson evaluated the reproductive success of hatchery and wild salmon in nature
and found that the hatchery fish productivity was less than that for wild salmon. The reasons for this
reduced productivity were stated as: “Hatchery adults appear to show reduced expressions of morphological characters important during breeding, such as secondary sexual characters (color, kype). Such reduced expressions of secondary sexual characters can have negative consequences for natural breeding success.”
”For hatchery females in competition with wild females, indicators of inferior competitive ability include delays in the onset of breeding, fewer nests, and greater retention of eggs. Ultimately, the breeding success of hatchery fish is frequently inferior to that of wild females.”
”The breeding behavior of males appears more strongly affected by hatchery rearing than that of females, reflecting the greater intensity of selection on male competitive ability during this period. Hatchery males tend to be less aggressive and less active courting females and ultimately achieve fewer spawnings than wild males. Hatchery males suffer more from inferior breeding performance than hatchery females. This pattern also appears to carry over into the wild, where gene flow between cultured and wild salmonids is sex based…”
“The most common form of release program is aimed at the supplementation of wild populations, i.e. the intentional integration of hatchery and natural production, with the goal of improving the status of an existing natural population. Such integration, however, entails significant ecological and genetic risks to the wild population.”
“…Despite large-scale releases…the supplementation programs must be deemed failures. In none of the studies reporting significant introgression, is there information on whether the release program resulted in improved natural production of the population.”
Simply put...Mixed Spawners Means Lower Natural Productivity:
Hatchery steelhead do not stray in large numbers
This myth has made the rounds among the professional gear/bait guides on the north coast of Oregon. They spread this myth around as justification for hatchery programs.
They do indeed stray and at a percentage of 4-26% making an 11% average according to American Fisheries Society
The "Hood River Study" proves that broodstock hatchery steelhead are no different than wild steelhead
In 1994 the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and tribes began to evaluate the reproductive success of native broodstock and compared them to the wild fish they were derived from. Kathryn Kostow evaluated the data collected on wild, native broodstock, and old hatchery stock to determine whether there is a life history and behavior difference between them. Kostow found “…large phenotypic responses by fish from the same parent gene pool to the differences between the captive and natural environments are consistent with the process of domestication.”
As I've always said "Once a hatchery fish, always a hatchery fish. You raise it in a cement enclosure with thousands of other smolt and hand feed it daily then it becomes what Ms. Kostow calls domesticated.
There are no true wild runs of steelhead anymore
This is a very popular notion among the bait crowd. They use it to fool themselves into thinking that killing wild salmonids is okay because after all the runs are not pure anymore. Certainly there has been a dilution of the genetics of wild salmonids, especially steelhead but there are populations of "pure" steelhead left. Take the Salmonberry river in Oregon. ODFW says that the wild winter steelhead are perhaps the most important wild populations in the state because of their clean genetics. The Oregon coastal winter runs of wild steelhead, while dwindling, still contain pure wild fish.
Holding wild fish out of the water for pictures is okay
Holding fish up for a photo can cause internal damage to that fishes' internal organs if not done right. So next time you just have to get you ego stroked think about what possible damage you may be doing and keep the fish in the water. Yes we are all sufficiently impressed with your ability to floss wild and dark coho but how about keeping them in the water.
There are a lot of other myths but these seem to be the major ones that are making the rounds on the internet. Always check the facts before buying into any bullshit from people who make their livings on the backs of native and wild fish. They have no soul and could not care less about the fate of wild salmon, steelhead and trout.