Re: at the least be informed
The short answer is YES... any hatchery program that allows its returning adults to spawn naturally in the river is degrading the system.
Does that mean hatcheries are bad and that they should all be shut down? NO.
It simply means that "integration" is bad and that "segregation" is the only way to avoid the perils of running a hatchery program. Run right, hatcheries could operate with little or no measurable impact to a healthy wild population.
It matters not to a healthy wild population whether the broodstock for the hatchery is in-basin or out-of-basin. What matters is whether or not the hatchery fish are permitted to co-mingle with wild, thereby degrading the reproductive fitness of the population as a whole. Both in-basin and out-of-basin hatchery fish have the potential to degrade wild populations, the only difference is one will do it faster than the other. And either will do it faster the more of them we allow to stray onto the spawning beds.
After studying this issue with an open mind, I have come to the conclusion that hatcheries operate with the singular goal of supporting harvest.
Anyone who wishes to believe hatcheries can be used to recover depressed wild populations has not read the available science or has conveniently chosen to ignore it. Anyone who claims that a hatchery is being run to save the wild fish is only fooling himself. The only reason to have hatcheries is to have harvest.
As I said earlier, hatcheries are only damaging if we let the hatchery fish spawn in the wild. No intermingling, then no damage, regardless of what broodstock is used. The value of using wild native broodstock is enjoyed by those participating in the fishery.... they get a higher quality fish to catch. There is ZERO value added to the wild population. We could just as easily use the old crappy broodstock, and the benefits to the wild fish would be the same.... ZERO.
Let's not kid ourselves into thinking we are somehow helping the wild fish with the wild broodstock programs. We are doing it for us, not for them.
Long Live the Kings!
eyeFISH.... The Keen Eye MD