As King County’s Lake Washington Watershed coordinator from 1996 to 2000, I take exception to the unquestioned faith in hatcheries that the director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the chair of the Muckleshoot Fish Commission display in the Op-Ed “We must work together to save treasured Lake Washington sockeye” [Feb. 8, Opinion].
Ecologists at King County persuaded me back then that the sockeye hatchery was a misdirection of funds that could have gone into habitat restoration and creation with a greater likelihood of long-term success, lower long-term costs and benefits to other species that were foregone by the choice to build a large-scale hatchery.
I believe the evidence has borne them out. If hatchery proponents disagree, I would ask, what evidence would they accept to contradict their choice? The key statistic has always been survival rates of wild versus hatchery sockeye. So far as I have always experienced, the state and the tribe have always refused to release that information.
If we are to recommit even more deeply to the hatchery, let’s see the evidence now. And let’s see it going back to the 1990s, before hatchery sockeye had interbred with wild fish for so long that the “wild” run lost so much of its fitness.
John Lombard, Seattle