The link is a report done by Tim Hamilton of the Twin Harbors Fish & Wildlife Advocacy and Brian Kraemer, that is a in-depth look at the so called hatchery surplus issue. For those of us involved with hatcheries it has long been known but seldom addressed by folks let alone WDF&W. It will be a eye opener for many to be sure. A big thanks to Tim & Brian for being willing to tackle this very complex is issue.


The removal of hatchery-raised salmon from spawning streams is established under the standards and guidelines of “Hatchery and Fishery Reform” adopted by the Washington Fish & Wildlife Commission on November 6, 2009. A “surplus” of returning adults occurs at the hatchery if the “exploitation rate” or level of harvest applied fails to reduce the hatchery return run size down to the low number of adults needed for egg propagation. At the same time, hatchery production must be accomplished carefully to avoid application of a harvest rate that undermines the larger escapement goals needed for natural spawning populations traveling with the returning hatchery fish. Hatchery surplus is therefore an expected event each year for the successful hatchery operation that supplements harvest supply without adversely impacting natural spawning populations.

This paper reviews the benefits to WDFW and the public treasury of the different methods used to remove the returning hatchery adults in Willapa Bay. The authors found the highest “return on investment” from hatchery production to state coffers comes from the recreational fisher who pays an average of 91¢ per pound in license fees while spending significantly within the local economy trying to capture the hatchery fish all the way back to the hatchery. Commonly referred to as the “recreational opportunity”, those fish the Recreational Sector fail to catch are removed by the state’s surplus service contractor paying the state an average of 39.4¢ per pound. The revenue from the surplus contractor and a portion of the recreational license fee is then used as “seed capital” for nonprofit Regional Fisheries Enhancement Groups” generating an additional $9.66 in grants for every dollar directed to the RFEGs.1 The near ten fold increase effectively creates a price of approximately $3.94 per pound and added to recreational license fee contribution, the hatchery surplus fish pursued by the recreational fisher all the way back to the hatchery yields an effective rate of return of $4.85 per pound. The surplus service contract holder also donates approximately 200,000 lbs. of vacuum packed frozen filet to food banks across the state which if valued at only 50¢ per pound would provide an additional $100,000 in value. As a comparison, the commercial gillnet fleet paid approximately 14.5¢ per pound for a total of $74,487 in combined license fees and excises taxes for fish removed from Willapa Bay in 2012. While understandably of significant importance to the individual gillnetter, the limited profit created by the short season is relatively less important to the overall economy of Pacific County. Finally, salmon raised in Washington hatcheries and intercepted primarily by commercial nets in Alaska and Canada provide little to no return on the investment by Washington’s taxpayers.

Edited by Rivrguy (12/22/14 02:11 PM)
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in