Why does the cost to raise fish vary?

  1. Survival rate of the fish from a particular hatchery.
  2. Length of time fish are raised in the hatchery: The longer fish have to be raised in the hatchery the more expensive the process is to raise them. (Generally speaking: steelhead stay in a hatchery for over 16 months, chum stay for one month, coho for 16 months and Chinook (zero-age) for three months.
  3. Amount of fish food required to grow the fish: Success of survival is driven in part by whether the fish are at their "optimum size" at release. The optimum size for steelhead at 16 months is three times larger than coho at 16 months. To get steelhead to their optimum size in 16 months, they are fed significantly more food than coho.
  4. Cost of utilities: The amount of energy it takes to run the hatchery, (to pump water throughout the hatchery) is a significant driver in hatchery operation costs. If the hatchery's water system is able to rely on "gravity" to move water, rather than needing pumps to move water, it will require less energy vs. a hatchery that requires its water to be pumped. Pumping waters adds up to a huge cost in electricity.
  5. Numbers of fish produced: Smaller conservation programs are usually more expensive per adult.