I am happy regarding the language in this new policy. It makes fundamental changes in the way hatchery success is measured. Until now individual hatcheries have been declared successful if they released the number of smolts called for in their hatchery plan. No concern was put toward adult escapement. Now hatcheries must monitor and evaluate hatchery adult return and survival rates.
As far as other neat things, I like the “Experimental” language that permeates this policy. I can think of many crafty and clever things we can now “sneak” through this loophole to get around many restrictions. All that is required is that they be scientifically justifiable and that they are written into the Conservation or Basin Management Plan.
My first example would be stream carcass enrichment. Currently, in order to place hatchery salmon carcasses into streams we have to follow strict DEQ guidelines. Even so, under these rules we were not allowed to place carcasses in TMDL (total maximum daily load) listed streams. However if we pursue “experimental” projects we are not restricted from releasing live, spawned-out, decease free hatchery fish into TMDL listed streams. Because the fish are live DEQ cannot restrict their use. If DEQ does have a water quality issue with these releases they can object on a basin by basin basis but it will be up to them to prove that “live” fish constitute a water quality issue.
That is something that they will more than likely be unwilling or unable to do with their fiscal troubles.