This report summarizes the results and conclusions of the Artificial Production Review and Evaluation (APRE) conducted by the Council in response to a request from Congress to review all federally funded hatchery programs in the Columbia River Basin. The goal of the review is to develop coordinated policies for the use of artificial production in the Basin.
Interest in a comprehensive review of artificial production in the Basin stems from scientific and policy concerns about the success of artificial production programs and how they affect other aspects of fisheries management. Despite the fact that artificial production has occurred in the Pacific Northwest for over 100 years, a comprehensive evaluation of the programs has not been undertaken. The APRE partially addresses this deficiency by conducting an in-depth evaluation of 225 individual salmonid hatchery programs within the U.S. portion of the Columbia River Basin. The results of the review are expected to provide a basis for regional fisheries planning efforts by all parties involved in Pacific Northwest hatcheries. Discussions of the future of hatcheries and identification of the benefits and risks of hatchery practices should also occur as a result of the review and evaluation.
Hatcheries in the Columbia River Basin were established originally to maintain commercially harvestable numbers of salmon. Within the past few decades, however, the focus of restoration has turned more toward supplementation of wild populations. The passage of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and changing public perceptions about the importance and use of salmon have had great influences on the purpose of hatcheries.
For each hatchery program in the Basin, APRE identified the program's purpose, the extent to which the program is meeting that purpose (benefit), and considered the potential for negative impacts on other purposes and priorities (risk). The review process was based on the hatchery review developed by the Hatchery Scientific Review Group (HSRG) in Washington State. Questionnaires which collected information on hatchery goals and operations from hatchery managers and operators were developed and the responses entered into a database (www.apre.info [no longer active]). The responses were evaluated against the APRE working hypothesis which states that: a) to be successful, a hatchery program must be internally consistent with its own stated purpose and externally consistent with the goals and priorities of the environment, including other potentially affected fish populations; and b) almost any human intervention to manipulate the environment poses some level of risk to the existing environment and species. A hatchery program was judged to be successful if it met the following four major conditions:
- It must produce a healthy and viable hatchery population.
- It must make a sustainable contribution of adult returns to conservation and/or harvest.
- Its potential effects on wild and native populations and the environment must be understood.
- It must collect, record, evaluate, and disseminate information pertaining to the first three conditions so that decision-makers may be informed about the benefits and risks of the program relative to other means of achieving similar conservation and harvest goals.
The information database is intended to form the foundation for continuing consideration of artificial production in the Basin. The individual program reports contain a summary of facility information including operator, funding sources, and overall performance. The database is designed to be updated as new information becomes available and hatchery reforms are enacted.
The results of the APRE are examined in 6 major categories: fish stocks, hatchery operations, distribution of hatchery releases, hatchery goals and purposes, funding, and monitoring and evaluation.
- Fish Stocks: The study identified 512 fish stocks of which 250 were natural stocks and 262 were hatchery stocks. Of the hatchery stocks identified, 174 were anadromous salmonid programs, 66 were resident salmonid programs and 23 non-salmonid programs. The largest portion of stocks was found in the Lower Columbia province.
- Hatchery Operation: About half of the anadromous salmonid hatchery programs in the Lower Columbia are segregated; most in the upper river are integrated programs.
- Hatchery Practices: Many segregated hatchery programs contribute significantly to wild spawning populations, despite the intention to separate hatchery and wild fish. The amount of mixing was unknown in a third of segregated programs. In addition, 31 percent used non-local broodstock and 75 percent transferred in fish from outside the basin or released fish outside the stream system. In contrast, 93 percent of integrated programs used broodstock derived from within the subbasin and 92 percent avoided transfers from outside the basin or avoided releasing fish outside the stream system.
- Distribution of Hatchery Releases: Hatchery managers reported planned, as opposed to actual, releases of 172,162,986 juvenile fish of all species in the U.S. portion of the Columbia River Basin. Of these releases, 156,737,635 fish are planned releases of anadromous salmonids below the fish passage barriers at the Chief Joseph and Hells Canyon dams. The largest proportion (50 percent) occurs in the Lower Columbia provinces to provide fish for the ocean and lower river commercial fisheries.
- Goals and Purpose: For anadromous salmonids, harvest remains the primary purpose for hatchery programs in the Columbia River Basin.
- Funding: Identification of hatchery funding is a complex issue because most programs are funded from a variety of direct and indirect sources. The Lower Columbia Province has the most funding because it has the majority of programs.
- Monitoring and Evaluation: Monitoring and evaluation consists primarily of reports of typical fish statistics such as number of recruits per spawner, smolt-to-adult survival, escapement, and total catch. Even so, many programs did not collect information for any of these categories. Information for anadromous salmonid programs regarding the number of recruits per spawner collected was available for less than 10 percent of programs, smolt-to-adult survival data was available for 53 percent of the programs, 23 percent of programs had data for escapement and 35 percent of programs had catch data.
The APRE was designed to address concerns that the Columbia River Basin hatchery system needed to be reformed. The study applied hatchery reform principles developed by the HSRG to the information received from the fishery and hatchery managers. These principles included the following:
- Goals for stocks affected by hatcheries must be clearly articulated, expressed in terms of resource values, and reflective of current biological, economic, and cultural circumstances.
- Hatchery programs must be scientifically defensible.
- Decision-making about hatchery programming and operations must be responsive and well-informed.
When these principles were applied, a number of questions arose about artificial production within the Basin. These questions explored such issues as whether or not hatchery programs can be used more strategically to better accommodate ecological and social goals and how many hatchery fish should be released each year. Broad answers to these questions were formulated and used to arrive at the general conclusions of the study:
- Hatcheries are limited in what they can accomplish.
- The social, economic, and ecological purposes upon which the current hatchery programs were established have changed and will continue to change.
- Hatcheries will continue to play a part in recovery and management of fish in the Columbia River and elsewhere.
- Hatcheries require reform to align their policies and practices with current social priorities and scientific knowledge, to determine hatchery performance, and to operate in a business-like fashion.
This document will be the basis for an issues paper which will delineate the Council's approach to hatchery reform. Both the Basin-Level report and the issues paper will contribute to a Report to Congress.