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New Policy Drafts Out on Native and Hatchery Fish

by Kat Ricker
Capital Press - January 4, 2002

Comments due January 15

Two proposed draft policies on native and hatchery fish management in Oregon are open to public comment. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is taking comments on the proposed Native Fish Conservation Policy and Guidelines and the Hatchery Management Policy and Guidelines through Jan. 15.

ODFW officials say the proposed hatchery policy differs from existing policies on this aspect: Ideal hatchery programs remove random mortality effects without influencing the natural life or experience of the fish. Under the new rules ODFW would try to eliminate random fish deaths in hatcheries but mimic the selective fish deaths that occur in nature. It also hopes to minimize artificial selection and "provide rearing and training experiences to reduce unnatural behaviors."

The unnatural behaviors of hatchery fish have to do with their survival tactics, which some say are inferior to those of wild fish. This is often the bottom-line difference cited between hatchery and wild fish in the ongoing Norhtwest debate over salmon stocks.

The proposed native fish policy emphasizes collaboration and public involvement. ODFW will maintain its statutory obligation to manage and conserve native fish species. Officials say the policy will help facilitate delisting of fish species under state and federal endangered species laws, strengthen local and state influence on federal management of fish, water and land, provide a scientific basis for conservation, and establish clear roles for hatchery fish.

Bill Moshofsky, vice president of government affaris for Oregonians in Action, was upset by the short comment period over the holiday season. He hasn't had a chance to read the drafts thoroughly yet. His initial reaction, however, was that the policies "appear to recognize that hatchery are the same as native fish, but if you read between the lines, it's not there.

"They're really ducking the issue of hatchery-bred and stream-bred salmon. It's business as usual with reducing hatchery production, which we think is the wrong thing to do. It will assure we have less salmon than we do now, and will perpetuate the need for funding" and compromise watershed controls, he said.

Gov. John Kitzhaber asked ODFW to reassess the 1990 Wild Fish Management Policy in light of the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds and because it conflicted with some tribal management and was generally viewed as inflexible.

ODFW Fish Division Administrator Ed Bowles said the new policies move away from the statewide standards approach and make more customized standards possible for basins and fish populations.

"These policies will help clarify where we are, where we want to be and how best to get there to conserve Oregon's native fish and provide fishing opportunities," Bowles said.

ODFW is collecting public input on the two draft policies through April. Comments received by Jan. 15, however, will be incorporated into revised drafts to be presented to the Fish and Wildlife Commission on Feb. 8.

Specific draft rule language will be available in late January. These drafts again will be modified based on public and commission comments at the February meeting. The commission will consider adopting rules to formalize the policies in April.

Copies of the documents are available on the ODFW website at or by calling the ODFW Fish Division at 503 872-552(?). Comments can be sent to Native/Hatchery Fish Policy Comments, ODFW, P.O. Box 59, Portland OR 97207 or e-mailed to

Kat Ricker, Capital Press Staff Writer
New Policy Drafts Out on Native and Hatchery Fish
Capital Press - January 4, 2002

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