From the Wild Steelhead Coalition:
At the beginning of September, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) released its draft Hatchery Genetic Management Plans (HGMP) for the Lower Columbia River. These documents spell out WDFW's proposed hatchery operations going forward and outline what impacts their programs will have on ESA-listed wild steelhead in the Lower Columbia. Ultimately, the HGMPs will go to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for approval. Unfortunately, the Lower Columbia region is the birthplace of Washington’s long standing hatchery addiction, and reform to some of the more harmful hatchery practices in the change has been slow to come. Specifically, the HGMPs for the South Fork Toutle, Coweeman and East Fork Lewis Rivers call for the continued release of non-native hatchery fish despite the lack of collection facilities in these basins.
By WDFW’s own estimates, hatchery fish are likely severely undermining the productivity of ESA-listed wild steelhead in these watersheds. The department has estimated that around 70 percent of the spawning summer steelhead in the East Fork Lewis River watershed are of hatchery origin, and the other two basins undoubtedly have equally large numbers of spawning hatchery fish. Under the statewide steelhead management plan, this practice was supposed to have been discontinued throughout the state because it guarantees that un-harvested hatchery fish will spawn in the wild. The Toutle, Coweeman and East Fork Lewis are all important wild steelhead producing watersheds for the Lower Columbia, and recovery of wild fish should be a priority in these systems.
Take two minutes to send comments to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and let them know it is time to stop our hatchery steelhead addiction and move toward wild steelhead recovery.