To save Klamath River salmon, shut down the hatcheries

Los Angeles Times –

In 2021, four large dams on the Klamath River are due to be demolished, in part to revive the river and Klamath Basin salmon. But unless salmon hatchery operations are discontinued soon afterward on the river, the effort will founder. Allowing hatchery salmon to mix with struggling native salmon after removing the dams is like rescuing a dying man only to slowly poison him.

The Klamath dam demolitions, the world’s largest dam removal project, offer a spectacular opportunity to return this California and Oregon river to its wild state. Native salmon will be able to swim an additional 400-plus river miles from ocean to historical spawning grounds, completing a life cycle that replenishes not just the stock of wild salmon, but the health of the basin. Klamath salmon are keystone species in a food web that includes at least 137 animals.

With sufficient habitat restoration and support for native fish, the Klamath could eventually reclaim its pre-dam ranking as the West Coast’s third-largest producer of wild salmon, after the Columbia and Sacramento rivers.

Salmon hatcheries don’t belong in this picture. They are relics of an outdated worldview that maintains that technology can conquer and control nature.

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