Wild works best
Pacific salmon are in trouble. Unfortunately, salmon hatcheries are an expensive fix that can make the problem worse.
A growing body of scientific evidence demonstrates how hatchery fish can harm wild salmon populations. Whether through direct competition for food and habitat or interbreeding with wild fish and altering their genetic structure, science shows hatchery fish can reduce wild salmon abundance and survival.
That’s why we created this short video exploring a range of issues and ideas about salmon hatcheries.
What we know…is that hatchery and wild fish just aren’t the same.
Jeffery Young, Senior Science and Policy Analyst
Hatchery operations have many direct impacts on wild salmon
Hatcheries are not a good solution for habitat loss or fishing pressures.
Hatchery fish can breed with wild salmon, altering their genetic structure. Science shows hatchery fish increase the risks of disease and parasites in wild salmon.
Facilities can also degrade wild salmon habitat through blocked passages or water withdrawals.
Hatcheries are often presented as an alternative to addressing direct impacts to wild salmon, such as fishing pressure or habitat loss from major industrial projects. Hatcheries are commonly used to justify unsustainable fishing and to mitigate the loss of critical salmon habitat, such as the proposed Vancouver region port expansion at Roberts Bank.
Can some salmon hatcheries work?
Small, community-based hatchery operations that focus on maintaining a highly depleted wild population, use rigorous management practices and provide public engagement opportunities are a potential exception to these concerns.
Complete a full scientific review of all enhancement facilities, including protection and separation of wild and hatchery fish.
Require a short, fixed time period for recovery-based hatchery operations.
Implement the Canadian Wild Pacific Salmon Policy.
Provide stimulus funding to restore critical community-based stream counts of spawning fish, habitat monitoring and targeted habitat restoration.
Shift fisheries to more selective fishing methods, to ensure only abundant wild salmon are caught.
Work with other countries on the Pacific Rim to reduce the output of hatchery salmon.