Support wild fish over hatchery

Letter to the editor

Posted: Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Haines is known for its five runs of salmon - all wild - a value rare on this planet, and a tourist draw, that is best nurtured and promoted. As someone who has worked with fisheries and watersheds for many years, I believe the proposed hatchery in Skagway poses a serious risk to wild salmon stocks in Lynn Canal.

Ten years ago I left Idaho after watching the last female wild sockeye returning to Redfish Lake (named for its historical massive sockeye run) get caught in a trap by Fish and Game, bonked on the head, and her eggs stripped to support a captive broodstock program. During the previous five years, with hatchery and captive broodstock being released into the Snake and Columbia river systems, a small but healthy population of wild sockeye from Redfish Lake with less than 2 percent bacterial kidney disease (BKD) present changed to an even smaller population of sockeye with over 95 percent of the fish testing positive for BKD. Warm temperatures and slack water combined with the close quarters of fish within hatcheries and captive broodstock programs had promoted the vertical (parent to offspring) and lateral (within fish populations) spread of the disease. The healthy wild stock is gone.

There's nothing special about hatchery fish. They substitute poorly for lost wild fish. The best way to promote tourism and protect Lynn Canal commercial, sport and subsistence fishing activities is to care for and promote wild fish stocks by protecting their habitat and saying no to fish hatcheries.

Kathleen Menke


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