Power Council Wades into
by Bill Rudolph
The Northwest Power and Conservation Council has revved up regional interest in the ongoing debate over fish hatcheries by releasing a draft issue paper on artificial production for public comment. The paper is one product of a 1997 congressional mandate to review federal hatchery programs in the Columbia Basin and to develop a set of coordinated policies to guide their future operation.
At last week's meeting in Spokane, Council staffer Bruce Suzumoto said the NWPCC is being asked to facilitate a regional discussion to identify basin wide goals, and to reduce inconsistencies for hatchery programs.
Noting that some hatcheries produce fish for harvest primarily out of the basin, some focus on increasing local harvest, and some use fish for rebuilding wild runs, Suzumoto said the region needs clearly articulated goals. "That goes for all the H's," Suzumoto said.
It's also been difficult to measure how successful many of these programs are, since less than one-third of them have the pertinent information needed to assess this, according to Council member Tom Karier from Washington state. He was enthusiastic about the new effort to untangle the conflicting mandates developed over the years by ever-changing fish policies.
Several of the paper's draft recommendations include: establish periodic program reviews; develop a set of performance standards to measure success; establish an expert panel to oversee the reviews, offer advice, contribute to reports; help identify research needs; and build an Internet-based data system to provide information for reviews and subbasin reports.
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