Hatchery Reform Overview
WDFW worked with federal natural resource agencies and a newly-appointed regional science panel,
the Hatchery Scientific Review Group
to identify ways to minimize adverse impacts of
hatchery operations on depressed wild stocks, while contributing to sustainable fisheries.
The HSRG conducted a comprehensive review of 178 hatchery programs and 351 salmon and steelhead
populations in Puget Sound/Coastal Washington and the Columbia River Basin. The resulting
population-specific recommendations are intended to provide scientific guidance for improved
These ongoing efforts, including the Fish and Wildlife Commission's adoption of a
Fishery Reform Policy
are all clear roadmaps for hatchery operations to meet conservation
objectives and provide sustainable fisheries. Details associated with specific hatchery
programs and associated operations can be found in the
Hatchery and Genetic Management Plans
for more than one hundred state hatchery programs.
Implementation of these above initiatives relative to WDFW hatchery programs will occur through
the development of Hatchery Action Implementation Plans (HAIP) and then be documented in
Hatchery and Genetic Management Plans submitted for federal ESA coverage.
Hatchery Action Implementation Plans align salmon and steelhead production by population with
watershed level priorities. This ensures the hatchery production is consistent with conservation
goals and/or harvest management objectives.
Changes in hatchery programs will occur through two principle fronts:
- Operational changes: adjusting juvenile fish rearing and release numbers, as well as
adult fish collection and reproduction.
- Facility infrastructure improvements: removal of hatchery barriers and ensuring compliance
with environmental regulations, development of watershed specific adult salmon collection
and handling structures to reduce the number of hatchery fish spawning naturally and
collect wild salmon and steelhead as appropriate to increase the productivity and
diversity of the population overall.
For more information on Hatchery Reform go here >> Reform
Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission Policy
OLYMPIA - The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to adopt a new state
hatchery and fishery reform policy designed to accelerate recovery of wild salmon and steelhead
while also supporting sustainable fisheries.
For our official press release please go here >> New Release
The new policy, which has been under review by the commission and the public since
last spring, establishes guidelines for realigning state fisheries and hatchery programs
to meet conservation and harvest goals for salmon and steelhead in each watershed.
To read the full policy details, please go here >> Commission Policies
WDFW priorities for state hatchery programs
Hatchery programs must be designed and evaluated relative to our conservation and fishery goals
rather than as isolated fish production factories.
Significant modifications to hatchery programs are required to provide fishery benefits with reduced
risks to natural populations of salmon and steelhead.
- Reduce the number of hatchery fish spawning in rivers and as appropriate, use wild
salmon and steelhead as broodstock to increase the productivity and diversity of wild
- Ensure that hatchery facilities are "wild salmon friendly" with passage facilities,
intake screening, and pollutant control systems that comply with environmental regulations
- Eliminate programs that cannot be modified to meet conservation and fishery objectives
in a cost-effective manner
Significant changes to hatchery programs can be found here >>
Hatcheries: Then and Now
Perhaps the single biggest change in salmon fishing over the past decade was the expansion of
coho and Chinook selective fisheries
to include the Washington coast and many inland waters.
Selective fisheries are designed to protect wild stocks and provide harvest of healthy hatchery
runs: this program allows fisheries managers to better assess hatchery/wild stock composition
in various fisheries, providing an important tool in establishing harvest quotas during
fishing seasons, as well as determining stray rates of hatchery fish into natural spawning areas.
To make it possible for fishers to distinguish between hatchery and wild salmon, WDFW crews
started clipping the adipose fins (mass
) of hatchery coho in 1996, and hatchery Chinook in 1999.
On average, state hatchery crews mark more than 100-million fish each year for release from
state and tribal hatcheries. Significant coho selective fisheries were allowed in 1999 and
2000 (from juveniles clipped in 1997 and 1998), and Chinook selective fisheries have
incrementally expanded towards the end of this decade, in which 2010 saw the first
coastal Chinook selective fishery.
For more information, please visit our main website here >> Mass Marking