Hatchery salmon and their potential impact on wild populations have been a sticking point in ongoing discussions about seafood sustainability, and a multi-year research project undertaken by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is looking at better understanding the issue.
Straying to wild salmon streams has long been a concern regarding hatchery fish, but the main research on the subject was conducted outside of Alaska, and little is actually known about the impacts here. Elsewhere, some research has shown that hatchery fish are generally less productive in nature than wild fish, and can also displace wild fish.
The team is essentially trying to answer three major questions: what is the genetic structure of pinks and chums, what is the extent and annual variability of straying for those salmon and what is the impact on natural salmon’s productivity caused by straying hatchery fish.
Researchers are using genetics to try to determine the parentage of new fish. By taking genetic samples from spawning fish, and then the alevin that result, the team thinks it can determine which spawners come from hatchery parents and which come from wild parents. Eventually, that could help determine the reproductive success of each group.
Read full original article: ADFG launches study on hatchery impacts on wild salmon