The Fishing and Marine Industry Daily News Feed

Spamming Streams With Hatchery Salmon Can Disrupt Ecosystems

Every year, 22 million sockeye salmon begin life some 420 kilometers, or about 260 miles, inland from the Alaskan coast, in plastic bins. They’re at the Gulkana hatchery, the largest sockeye salmon hatchery in the world — but just one of countless hatcheries around the globe that release native fish into rivers, lakes and oceans to augment wild stocks.

Fish hatcheries, like the species they breed, come in many shapes and sizes. Some, like the Gulkana facility in the U.S., pump out millions of fish each year to support commercial fisheries. Others, like the Nechako White Sturgeon Conservation Centre hatchery in Canada, focus on conservation by rebuilding and maintaining genetic diversity in threatened populations. Some hatcheries use eggs and milt (sperm) from wild fish; others use hatchery fish as parents. But no matter what the species of fish or the purpose of the hatchery program, the released fish enter the ecosystem en masse and interact with an existing community.

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