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Why Hatcheries Suck by Steven Hawley

The Drake Mag cover Spring 2012

 

A great article by Steven Hawley on the ongoing hatchery sham in the Pacific Northwest. Check out Why Hatcheries Suck from the spring 2012 issue of The Drake Magazine. Below are a few paragraphs from the article:

 

 

 

"For reasons that have little to do with biological health, or even sanity, the Obama Administration and key members of Congress think this is a swell idea. Hatcheries suck because they’ve masked a staggering loss of biological diversity and abundance. With a century of hatchery experimentation in the rearview mirror, nearly everything has been lost for Pacific salmon in the Lower 48, including a grip on reality. Most weeks of salmon season here in the Columbia Basin, it’s possible to track down a forecast from some misguided guide, federal mouthpiece, blogger or outdoor pundit chortling about the “near record returns of kings over Bonneville Dam.” This is so patently false it shouldn’t even qualify as a delusion."

"Hatcheries suck because they dull and eventually mute our collective and communal historic memory. Before there were dams, 20 million wild salmonids swam up the Columbia each year. This has been reduced by at least ninety-nine percent. We have a river that drains square mileage from Nevada to British Columbia to the coast, now sparsely populated with too few wild salmon that are in turn threatened by too many hatchery fish. That’s a record to be reckoned with, for sure. But not as a measure of abundance."

"Hatcheries suck because they relegate fish to being stage props in a play about money, set in the wire room of a multi-billion dollar racket. One particularly egregious scene in this drama is unfolding on the Klickitat River, a southern Washington tributary of the Columbia. The Yakima Tribe and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife have extracted bales of cash from the generous folks at Bonneville Power. Almost $400 million between the two of them, money paid to the tribe and state to unconditionally support the aforementioned unworkable salmon plan. The agreement stipulates that options like Snake River Dam removal will not be on the table. The signatories will go quietly along with whatever the federal government construes as salmon recovery. Habitat improvement projects are kosher, but there’s only so many willows that can be planted by so many school children for four hundred mil. Now a new hatchery—that can suck up ducats like a hooker at a sex-addict convention. But the offer’s only good until 2018. New hatcheries take a long while to be vetted by various attending bureaucracies. The money’s burning a hole in the agencies’ respective pockets."

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