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Hatcheries, Once the Answer, Now the Problem Throughout the last 150 years salmon populations have been continuously dropping, originally because of the rampant overfishing of the late 19th century, and currently because of habitat loss due to hydropower dams and poor logging practices. The primary intervention used to increase the salmon population has been hatcheries. It was thought that they would solve the problem of decreased salmon populations, hatcheries actually lead to the destruction and decline of wild salmon stocks. There are unfortunately many consequence now realized about salmon hatcheries. Little scientific research was done about the future populations of salmon and the genetic effects the hatcheries would have. Therefore statistics in regards to their future populations could not be found. The initial problem with the hatchery approach is that instead of dealing with the reasons behind the depletion of salmon we developed a quick fix. Essentially, instead of cleaning up the rivers and reducing dams on major migratory paths we decided to grow our own salmon to replace the dying species. In 1948 Paul Needham, Oregon s Chief of Fisheries, publicly announced the idea that hatcheries can take the place of natural production of salmon. The Science journal states in 1977 that man should view edible aquatic products (including salmon) as fruits of a system that not only can be exploited, but whose management can be planned and controlled at every level of the production pyramid. What we have found is that although hatchery salmon may look like wild salmon genetically they are a hybrid. In fact it has been proposed to take the hatchery type of salmon off of the endangered species list because they are so genetically different from the native salmon species. In the 1970 s scientists realized that they knew little about the genetics of the salmon. They were mainly interested in manipulating the genetics to develop a salmon that would, almost certainly be able to select for physiologically superior growth. (Science Journal 1977) Although hatcheries were created in the hope of supplementing the numbers of diminishing wild stocks of salmon, they have been more of a means to an end of the wild salmon populations. For instance, hatchery fish have a limited gene pool which leads toward uniformity. Some hatchery fish may be so different from the wild populations that they are unable to breed with each other. Hatchery fish also do not have the genetics to survive without the continued intervention of hatchery systems. In the 1970 s people felt that the trouble with the salmon population was over because of the hatcheries. Expected high numbers of returning adults allowed fisheries managers to increase the allowable ocean catch, and wild fish were over harvested as a result. Hatcheries were initially thought to be an efficient and cost effective way of dealing with the salmon crisis. Currently we have realized that inexpensive doesn't exactly characterize hatchery production. In Oregon, the cost of producing salmon in hatcheries can run as high as $228.93 per fish.(Coastal Management V. 23) An article in Sports Illustrated dating back to 1973 states that the success of the first productive Atlantic salmon farm can be attributed to the avoidance of long-winded scientific research. The man who owned the farm stated that, We didn t have the staff or the money to carry out the experiments that should have been done. We had to take shortcuts. What is most alarming is the lack of foresight on the part of the fishery managers in assuming control over evolutionary processes that nature alone perfected over the millennia. Oregon Trout, founded in 1983, is one of the reasons why we now know so much more about hatchery fishes genetics. Oregon Trout realized that the Department of Oregon Fish and Wildlife was limited by politics because they were governmentally funded. Hatcheries were very popular politically and therefore little research had been given to their negative affects on the salmon. Oregon Trout didn t care abo

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