Saturday, February 18, 2012

Federal Science Panel Releases Review of the Elwha Hatchery Programs

Via Moldy Chum:

Care to guess what they determined?
Last week the Hatchery Scientific Review Group (HSRG), an independent federal science review panel released a long awaited review of the Elwha Hatchery programs. Not surprisingly the HSRG came to many of the same conclusions as we did in choosing to join the Wild Fish ConservancyWild Steelhead Coalition and Conservation Angler in a lawsuit against the Elwha hatchery program.

Specifically, the current hatchery emphasis in the plan is unnecessary and counterproductive to the aim of recovering robust wild populations in the Elwha River and that an inadequate monitoring program will limit the ability to adaptively manage hatchery programs and determine the degree to which they are aiding or hindering recovery. Furthermore, no specific recovery goals or thresholds have been established that would lead to a reduction in the degree of hatchery supplementation in the Elwha and many of the hatchery fish being released into the Elwha are not marked with an adipose fin clip.
A few quotes from the document:

"The main concern the HSRG has with the Elwha Plan is the potential for unintended negative consequences of excessive and prolonged hatchery influence."

"Prolonged hatchery influence may lead to loss of fitness of natural populations, potentially resulting in reduced or delayed restoration and loss of long‐term sustainable harvest opportunities."

"Inadequate program monitoring may lead to management decisions that reduce or delay recovery, rather than promoting it, and prevent managers from identifying and testing alternatives that could be more effective."

"The continued production of Chambers Creek steelhead stock during the early phases of recovery therefore appears inconsistent with the priorities and goals the managers have presented." 

Download a copy of the HSRG report

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