There is a small river down right near the US border near White Rock where I have spent a great deal of time exploring, fishing for and learning about anadromous fish and their habits. This river has a small volunteer run hatchery that augments steelhead, coho, chinook and sea run cutthroat populations through wild brood stock capture both through angling and through a fish trap in the upper river (pictured below). The reason I wanted to mention this place is because I love this little river and recently it has become quite fashionable to hate hatcheries as if they are the primary reason for the decline of salmon in this part of the world. This is not true. This old small ragtag group of volunteers is the prime reason there are wild fish in this river. It is a tiny urban river, it has many threats to it’s continued viability as a strong salmon bearing stream. They have fought, educated and advised landowners, businesses, land use policy, fought tooth and nail for years for this river as advocates, completed rejuvenation projects on multiple creeks, cleared log jams, chased poachers, educated local elementary classes and provided fry for in class rearing programs, educated fishers like myself, all in the face of a near collapse of stocks in the nineties, no funding, spills, endless urban construction, draw down of water tables, blow after blow and yet they still work. for free. None of them fish the river, and they don’t do this to provide food for local unemployed dirtbags. They love this river as much as anybody. It is far too simplistic a view to say that this is evil or wrong. It isn’t, this isn’t a massive US style hatchery which uses wild broodstock as a guide welfare program, and nor is it that I think that the methods used to produce or the fish themselves are in anyway helping the wild fish in this river. My point is that the organization itself has tirelessly advocated for these fish and provided a focal point for the preservation of this river and this deserves respect. Bob Oswald for a time directed operations out of a wheelchair while going through serious health problems. Others have tirelessly devoted their own time during their own health crises. Ask yourself if you would do this for free for years with no expectation of any compensation, or returning fish in any number. Tyne head hatchery on the Serpentine river(devastated by a chlorine spill in the eighties) and the Nicomeckl (whose fish were essentially extirpated by pollution and sewage in the thirties) also have done the same. These hatcheries are not the reason for the declines on these rivers.
There should be serious consideration to the damage hatchery fish and fish rearing policies have on our precious wild fish and perhaps they should all be disbanded, especially the large scale meat market US style hatchery inbred snag fest (they disgust me too)but this does not mean that some hatcheries aren’t valuable or part of fixing the problems that exist on our rivers
Hats off to small community run hatcheries that tirelessly advocate and educate for these fish, evil or not.
(above)A week ago on the river, there was a steelhead sitting along the left side bank that took off a few seconds before I took this picture