Hatchery Fish
5:51 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Court Orders Agencies To Consider Fewer Hatchery Fish For The Elwha

Crews are finishing the largest dam removal in history on the Elwha River. It's on Washington's Olympic Peninsula. A plan to restore fish runs there includes releasing more than 7 million hatchery salmon and steelhead.

A plan to restore fish runs in the Elwha River includes releasing more than 7 million hatchery salmon and steelhead.
A plan to restore fish runs in the Elwha River includes releasing more than 7 million hatchery salmon and steelhead.
Credit Roger Tabor / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

But some conservation groups want to see wild fish repopulate the river on their own. They're worried that releasing too many hatchery fish will reduce the chances of wild fish reproducing. They sued the agencies in charge of the plan.

Kurt Beardslee is the executive director for one of those groups, The Wild Fish Conservancy. He says one of their arguments was that the agencies failed to consider options that would release fewer hatchery fish into the river.

"There was no range of alternatives. It was either plant all of the hatchery fish or none," says Beardslee.

Federal Judge Benjamin Settle agreed with that argument. He's ordered federal agencies to meet with conservation groups to consider an option that would reduce the number of coho and steelhead released to just 50,000 apiece.

Copyright 2014 Oregon Public Broadcasting

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