The lawsuit challenging hatchery practices on the Sandy River, east of Portland, continues in court, with our own local McKenzie Flyfishers joining other conservation groups in the action. Native Fish Society, McKenzie Flyfishers, the Federation of Fly Fishers, and the Wild Steelhead Coalition were asked by the National Marine Fisheries Service to submit comments on the draft Environmental Assessment (EA) relating to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Hatchery and Genetic Management Plans (HGMPs) for the management of wild anadromous fish on the Sandy River. The McKenzie Flyfishers comments on the proposed EA are available on the club’s website here.
By now, you should be well aware that fish enhancement programs (hatcheries) have demonstrated negative effects on populations of wild fish. Hatchery fish compete with wild natives for food and spawning grounds, have lower survival rates and lower return rates than wild fish, and can interbreed with wild populations thereby weakening the genetic fortitude of wild fish. When the wild fish populations being considered are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, as they are on the Sandy River, it means that NMFS and ODFW have a responsibility to plan for the recovery of listed species. On the Sandy River, ODFW’s HGMPs assume that there is no serious threat to the status of listed Chinook, Coho, and winter steelhead on the Sandy, despite a well documented decline in the numbers of remaining wild fish in the system. NFS and McKenzie Flyfishers have much more comprehensive information on the status of Sandy River Salmon, so check their websites for the full story.
If you’re interested in learning more about the fight to save wild Sandy River salmon, point your browser to Native Fish Society’s website, spend some time reading McKenzie Flyfishers comments, and consider supporting the groups involved in the lawsuit.