Columbia river wild salmon gain protection from hatchery fish

March 19, 2014, 9:14 am

Beginning this year, hatchery steelhead will no longer be released into certain sections of the river, providing protection for wild salmon and steelhead, according to the Wild Salmon Center.

The Wild Salmon Center (WSC) congratulated the Washington state department of fish and wildlife (WDFW) on securing the ‘wild steelhead gene banks’ on three steelhead rivers on the lower Columbia River.

Hatchery steelhead will no longer be released into the East Fork of the Lewis, the North Fork of the Toutle/Green, and the Wind rivers.

The WSC supported the creation of these areas, also known as wild salmonid management zones, during the public comment process last year. In 2012, WSC staff worked with WDFW and other partners to secure the first management zone for wild steelhead on the Sol Duc River on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.

A central component of WSC’s strategic efforts in Washington and Oregon is to establish areas that are managed primarily for wild salmon and steelhead, and to ensure hatchery fish are not released in certain rivers.

Unlike hatchery fish, wild salmon and steelhead populations have a range of highly specialized adaptations to the natural environment and the unique characteristics of their local watersheds. These adaptations not only help them return to their home streams to spawn, but also increase their ability to withstand environmental changes like temperature fluctuations and extreme variations in stream flows.

While hatcheries play a role on some watersheds for fisheries, the WSC is dedicated to working with regional partners, such as WDFW and others, to continue this important work to set aside key watersheds and protect our remaining wild salmon and steelhead populations.

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