Implementing Hatchery Reform in the State of Idaho

Monday, September 9, 2013: 2:20 PM
Marriott Ballroom A (The Marriott Little Rock)
Brian Leth , Fisheries, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Nampa, ID
Paul Kline , Fisheries, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Boise, ID
There is an established weight of evidence in the literature describing potential risks that hatcheries and hatchery-produced fish pose to natural populations of salmon and steelhead. Primary risks include competition for resources between conspecifics as well as potential reductions in the fitness of natural populations due to intraspecific genetic hybridization.  Nevertheless, anadromous fish hatcheries have been part of the western landscape for over a century and continue to play an important role in addressing mitigations objectives established by a variety of legal actions and agreements.  In the Columbia River drainage alone, over 200 hatchery facilities produce over 150 million juvenile salmon and steelhead annually.  Approximately 15% of this production occurs within the state of Idaho. 

Operating anadromous fish hatcheries within a framework that emphasizes hatchery reform is becoming standard operating procedure in the west.  A number of regional efforts have improved the collective understanding of the potential risks hatcheries pose to natural populations.  Recent work by the congressionally mandated Columbia River Hatchery Scientific Review Group provided specific “solutions” for operating hatcheries consistent with harvest and conservation goals.  In this presentation, we describe efforts underway in the state of Idaho to operate hatcheries consistent with these principles.