Sunsetting Hatcheries

Our Approach

Guided by the best available science, Wild Fish Conservancy works to restore wild fish habitat, reform fisheries, and transition away from fish hatcheries. We believe hatcheries play a role in justifying the continued degradation of the natural environment, and continue to harm wild fish populations through genetic, ecological, infrastructural, disease, and fisheries impacts.

We engage in public policy processes to ensure the best management practices are protecting fish, and when that is insufficient, rely on the courts to uphold environmental laws.

Hatcheries Harm Wild Fish

The artificial spawning and rearing of hatchery fish is one of the primary way in which fish are harmed by humans.

The Remedy:
Wild Recovery

To achieve broad sense recovery of self-sustaining, wild, fish populations we must aim to transition away from depending on hatcheries.

New Hakai Magazine Audio Series

The Paradox of
Salmon Hatcheries

Click below to listen to an investigative four-part series by Hakai Magazine digging into the history, science, and consequences of the Northwest's reliance on hatchery production over the last two centuries.

Series Introduction by Hakai magazine: "After around 150 years of managing Pacific salmon with all the wrong goals in mind—more fish, more profit—and relying heavily on fish hatcheries to meet those flawed objectives, the path to sustainable and healthy wild salmon runs is murkier than ever.

No one can turn back the clock and convince the builders of that first salmon hatchery in the Pacific Northwest that they would reap more benefits from restoring and protecting habitats. But if Pacific salmon are to have a future, we can learn from the past and the present.

To quote a famous philosopher, life can only be understood backwards—but we have to live it forwards."

PART 2
Too Many Pinks in the Pacific

Evidence is mounting that pink salmon, pumped by the billions into the North Pacific from fish hatcheries, are upending marine ecosystems.

More fish proved a simplistic, problematic, and greedy goal. Hatcheries are not cures for what ails Salmon Nation—they are interventions that, if used judiciously, may offer life support to a few patients. Sunsetting hatcheries because wild fish are thriving would be the ultimate success story.

The Hatchery Crutch: How We Got Here, Hakai Magazine, May 31, 2022

Our Initaitives

Through a variety legal of initiatives Wild Fish Conservancy has shown a steadfast commitment to ensuring the science demonstrating the risks hatcheries pose to wild fish is appropriately considered and addressed in policy and resource management decisions. Over the last three decades WFC has set important legal precedents by enforcing the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act as they relate to the artificial propagation of fish. We've also been at the forefront of developing mark-selective fisheries that can reduce the negative impact caused by too many hatchery fish on the spawning grounds.

Legal Suit against WA Agency for Killing Federally Protected Wild Steelhead

Throughout 2019 and 2020, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife captured and killed wild summer steelhead for a new summer steelhead hatchery program in the Skykomish River without the required permits or federally approved operational plans required for all hatcheries that affect threatened or endangered species.

Learn more about Wild Fish Conservancy lawsuit holding the agency responsible for this blatant violation of the Endangered Species Act that is harming wild steelhead recovery.