Minimizing Risk & Maximizing Benefits
Due to extensive habitat degradation and hydropower development, the abundance and productivity of wild salmon and steelhead populations remain greatly diminished. Hatcheries are thus essential mitigation measures necessary to maintain viable recreational, commercial, and tribal fisheries, capable of providing economic, quality-of-life, and cultural benefits. Northwest Steelheaders believe that by employing prudent, science-based fishery and hatchery management plans and practices, hatcheries can be operated in ways that minimize risk to wild fish populations, support conservation and recovery objectives, and sustain robust harvest fisheries. To this end, we have recently advocated for continued funding of the North Santiam summer steelhead program and the Leaburg Hatchery in support of Hatchery and Wild Coexist’s Campaign.
Supporting well-managed hatcheries does not detract from our long-standing commitment to the conservation and recovery of wild salmon and steelhead populations.
Northwest Steelheaders has learned that the health and abundance of wild and hatchery fish – and the habitats upon which they depend – are inextricably intertwined. The more wild fish we get back to our watersheds, the more flexibility we have to enhance hatchery production, such as through wild broodstock programs. We’ve witnessed first-hand the success of such programs with steelhead on the Wilson, Nestucca, Clackamas, and Sandy systems. We’re pleased to support ODFW’s application to use wild broodstock in spring Chinook programs in the Willamette Basin. More wild fish in our rivers, fewer hatchery impacts, and more, bigger, and better biting hatchery fish – we have lofty goals indeed!