Tribes in Pacific Northwest rely on hatcheries to restore fish runs

Tribes in the Pacific Northwest have successfully restored runs of fish with their hatcheries, a practice that is coming under fire in the courtrooms.

The hatcheries help fulfill treaty obligations for tribes in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. But critics say the farm-raised fish are outrunning wild runs of salmon and steelhead.

“We as a society have made conscious decisions to significantly alter habitat, and we also made commitments to people who utilize fish - tribes and non-Indians - that fish will be available,” Stuart Ellis, a biologist for the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, told the Associated Press. “To the extent that hatchery programs may pose some sort of risk to remaining natural populations, you have to balance those risks with the promises that were made.”

Environmentalists and conservation groups are suing in Oregon, California and Washington in hopes of limiting hatchery fish in the wild.

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Lawsuits could lead to changes at fish hatcheries (AP 2/18)

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