Hatcheries Harm Trout, Salmon, Steelhead

September 7, 2023 By: Spencer Durrant

Photo: See1,Do1,Teach1/Flickr

Following on the heels of a recent story where we learned about the impact of hatchery salmon in southeast Alaska, we have another story that shows the harm hatchery fish are doing to wild fish.

The folks over at Hatch Magazine have compiled an in-depth story on a study undertaken by Trout Unlimited, U.S. and Canadian universities, and other groups, which aims to synthesize a global collection of “research on the effects of hatchery salmonids on wild salmonids.”

This study looks at 50 years of scientific publications surrounding the impact of fish hatcheries on wild salmonid populations across the world. By combing through that much data, scientists were able to compile a well-rounded, full-picture view of what the science actually says about hatchery fish competing with wild ones. The conclusion the study has reached is that hatchery fish negatively impact wild salmon, trout, and steelhead across the world.

Of particular note, as detailed in the Hatch Magazine article, is that “The study’s authors took care to highlight that their review did not include research focused on the use of hatcheries in reintroducing extinct or near-extinct fish species, as their work was aimed at gaining insight on hatcheries’ impacts on existing, intact wild fish populations.”

Hatcheries are critical to reintroducing cutthroat throughout the Rocky Mountain West, for example.

You can read the full article, and learn more about what it means for fish hatcheries, here.