Thursday, October 12, 2006

Conservation role for salmon hatcheries

Non-traditional hatcheries can help salmon conservation, but the "livestock in salmon's clothing" produced in traditional hatcheries are not helpful, according to a new study.

This is another nail in the coffin of the big fish hatcheries built as compensation for dams that block rivers.

Say goodbye to the heady days of "building a better salmon," chronicled in "Fish of rare breeding." This book from 1976 captures the can-do excitement of fish biologists like Lauren Donaldson who thought they had bested nature through selective breeding of "super fish." Students of social and scientific change will find this book interesting reading.

Scientist Michael Blouin cautioned that relying on hatcheries to sustain salmon runs is likely to fail in the long run without restoring river habitats. Failure occurs because one generation in hatcheries seems ok, but confinement for too long produces fish that can only thrive in ponds.

How much proof is needed to bury hatchery salmon--the great sacred cow of the northwest?

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