Wild Eggs Hatcheries Study Stirs New Debate

Depending on your perspective, a new study showing improved survival rates for steelhead hatched from wild eggs in hatcheries either supports the role of hatcheries in sustaining wild fish populations or highlights the dangers of ignoring habitat restoration. “But Oregon State University geneticist Michael Blouin, lead author of the study posted last week in the online version of the journal Conservation Biology, cautioned that relying on hatcheries to sustain salmon runs is likely to fail in the long run without restoring river habitats, because the fish raised from wild eggs hatcheries will soon evolve traits ill-suited to the wild.” Article by AP environmental writer Jeff Barnard.

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  • jdubya

    This is not a shock because maintaining any animal in controlled populations leads to loss of genetic diversity. Where this plan MIGHT work, but I don’t like it, would be to repopulate the hatchery every year with eggs taken from wild steelhead, so NO brood stock. If you constantly primed the pump with wild diversity, then you would get the results they have in this study year after year. But if you are lazy, and fill the raceways with brood stock that you pull the eggs and sperm from year after year, you will get lousy genetics because you are selecting for fish that do well in raceways, eating food pellets.