Steelhead: As Hatchery Fish Go Up, Wild Fish Go Down

I came across an article about a presentation last December by Dylan Tolmie, sponsored by Emerald Water Anglers, about the threat posed to wild steelhead by hatchery steelhead. Dylan Tolmie is an environmentalist, Patagonia sponsored athlete, and former guide, who lives north of here on Bainbridge Island.

There’s been a lot written about the threats to wild steelhead here in the Northwest. Given the magnitude of the problem, it’s nowhere near enough. Tolmie introduced his topic by saying, Are you guys ready to get pissed off? Because I’m pissed about this. The more I’ve found digging deeper and deeper, the more upset I get.” The specific incident that drove that question was the closure of the Nooksack River due to lack of hatchery steelhead eggs needed for production quotas.

As in everything, economic needs, e.g., “production quotas” drive everything.

To those who would ask why protecting hatchery steelhead poses a risk to wild steelhead, Dylan has the ready answer. A wild steelhead is an example of survival of the fittest – even those smolts making it from their spawning beds out to the ocean have gone through a natural selection process. Hatchery steelhead have not faced the same challenges, being raised in production facilities. The sheer numbers released means they out compete for food.

The hatchery system is paid for by taxes – taxes that could be used for better purposes; certainly better purposes than reducing fragile stocks of wild steelhead.

You can read the article here.

Tom

Author: Tom

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