Evidence mounting that more protections are needed for wild salmon
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — While researchers have long known the genetic effects of mixing hatchery fish with wild populations of salmon, the larger ecological impacts haven’t been measured very well.
But a new analysis of more than 20 studies by fishery researchers in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, Russia and Japan suggests that the billions of hatchery raised salmon that have been released in the wild can harm wild salmon through competition for food and habitat. And the potential for even greater impacts is enormous, as countries prepare to ramp up hatchery operations to meet consumer demand.
“Now we know the problems are real and warrant more attention from fisheries managers,” said journal editor David Noakes, from Oregon State University.
The studies compile new evidence that fast-growing hatchery fish compete with wild fish for food and habitat in the ocean as well as in the rivers where they return to spawn. The research also raises questions about whether the ocean can supply enough food to support future increases in hatchery fish while still sustaining the productivity of wild salmon. (more…)