Over the past several years, independent scientific reviews of Columbia River hatcheries have uniformly concluded that change is needed. The purpose of many artificial programs in the basin is currently unclear. While many artificial production programs were built to mitigate the impact of dams or to produce fish for harvest, their role today is less certain. There also is great concern about whether or not artificially produced fish adversely affect naturally spawning populations of fish.

To address these issues, Congress directed the Council to conduct a review of artificial production in the Columbia Basin. The Council completed the first phase of the Congressionally mandated review by producing the Artificial Production Review, a report that outlined recommendations to reform hatchery practices. The next phase of the review is the Artificial Production Review and Evaluation or APRE. It is intended that the APRE will include a review of all artificial production facilities and programs in the Columbia River Basin — more than 300 programs of anadromous and resident fish programs involving about 130 facilities. 

The primary objectives of the APRE are:

  1. determine whether or not a program meets its stated purpose;
  2. evaluate whether a program is consistent with legal, policy and scientific criteria; examine the operational costs;
  3. outline the benefits and risks of the program; and
  4. gather and distribute hatchery data and information to regional subbasin planning processes.

The APRE is being completed in cooperation with NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Data and information collected from the review will meet both the Council’s goals, as well as aid in the completion of NOAA Fisheries Hatchery and Genetic Management Plans (HGMPs). The HGMP’s will be used by the fisheries service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to assess the affects of artificial production programs on listed anadromous species.

Information will be collected through an electronic questionnaire designed to capture the data necessary for the Council’s review and to complete HGMP’s. This information and data will then be the common source for both the APRE and HGMP processes. See chart of the APRE/HGMP relationship. Fish and wildlife managers in each Columbia Basin province will be involved in the review process through a series of workshops. Programs will be reviewed in relation to goals and objectives for a specific area. The results of the analysis will be assembled in a draft report for each province.

A final set of documents with the conclusions and recommendations for all hatchery programs will incorporate comments from regional managers and hatchery operators for each province. 

The goal of the final report is to provide accurate and complete information on artificial production programs by province and subbasin for subbasin planning groups. With this information, subbasin planners will be able to identify and prioritize needed changes in artificial production programs, and include them in their subbasin plans.

Hatcheries, operating under new scientific methods and goals, can play a crucial role in preserving and restoring salmon in the basin. Through the APRE, we hope to better define their role so their activities make sense scientifically, and they can meet their goals without harming natural populations of fish.

APRE and subbasin planning

Hatchery program information and final recommendations from the APRE process will be made available to subbasin planners. APRE provincial evaluations and workshops have been scheduled to coordinate with subbasin planning to the greatest extent possible. Subbasin planners will be provided a wide variety of hatchery information including operational information, adult return and harvest data, potential hatchery/natural stock interactions as well as current program goals and objectives. See Subbasin Planning.