New study: Hatchery-raised salmon are productive

BOISE, Idaho — A new study shows that salmon raised in a Nez Perce Tribe hatchery are spawning as successfully in the wild as wild salmon.

Nez Perce Tribe Fisheries Program Manager Dave Johnson told The Idaho Statesman that the study demonstrates how supplementation programs can boost salmon numbers and minimize impact to wild fish populations.

The study, published last week in the journal Molecular Ecology, found that the hatchery salmon from the Johnson Creek Artificial Propagation Enhancement program had the same reproductive success when spawning with wild salmon as wild salmon that spawned together.

The findings run counter to some other research and genetic experiments, which have indicated that hatchery-raised fish are less successful than wild salmon. Some biologists and salmon advocates fear that mixing hatchery salmon with wild salmon will ultimately weaken the wild salmon population as a whole.

“Our results question the generalization that all hatchery fish negatively impact the fitness of wild populations,” said Maureen Hess, geneticist with the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission and lead author on the study.

The researchers compared DNA from all adult salmon that returned to the hatchery over a 13-year span, tracking parents and their offspring. The study found fish taken into the hatchery to spawn produced an average of nearly five times the number of returning adults compared to fish that were left in the wild to spawn.

Hatchery fish that spawned naturally with a wild fish had about the same reproductive success as two wild fish, suggesting that chinook salmon reared for a single generation in the specially-designed hatchery did not reduce the fitness of wild fish.

The Nez Perce Tribe began the Johnson Creek project in 1998 in an effort to boost the low number of salmon that were returning to Idaho rivers to spawn. In 1995, the number of salmon that were counted after returning to Johnson Creek had dropped to five. Today, the number of salmon returning to the creek consistently counted at more than 350 adults, and the numbers have reached more than 1,000 several times.

More in Local News

Everett district relents on eminent domain moving expenses

Homeowners near Bothell still must be out by April to make way for a planned new high school.

Their grown children died, but state law won’t let them sue

Families are seeking a change in the state’s limiting wrongful-death law.

Officials rule train-pedestrian death an accident

The 37-year-old man was trying to move off the tracks when the train hit him, police say.

Ex-Monroe cop re-arrested after losing sex crime case appeal

He was sentenced to 14 months in prison but was free while trying to get his conviction overturned.

Marysville hit-and-run leaves man with broken bones

The state patrol has asked for help solving an increasing number of hit-and-run cases in the state.

Everett man killed at bar had criminal history, gang ties

A bar employee reportedly shot Matalepuna Malu, 29, whose street name was “June Bug.”

There’s plenty to cheer in overdue capital budget

In Snohomish County, there’s money for a number of projects.

Parking a constant problem at Wallace Falls State Park

There’s a study under way on how to tackle that issue and others.

Front Porch

EVENTS Autoharpist in Everett Folksinger, storyteller and autoharp virtuoso Adam Miller returns… Continue reading

Most Read