Commentary: The Alaska hatcheries model is not for Washington

Source: Ray Hilborn, Seattle, professor, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, via Seattle Times’ Letters to the Editor, August 15.

Re: “Alaska’s nonprofit hatcheries give us hope for our salmon runs” [Aug. 15, Opinion]:

We have something like 300 hatcheries in the Pacific Northwest. If hatcheries were the solution, we would not have a problem. While our hatcheries do provide some fishing opportunity that would otherwise not exist, hatcheries have not maintained or rebuilt our salmon runs.

Why would more hatcheries succeed where past hatcheries have failed?

The revival of Alaskan salmon runs was due almost entirely to good management of wild stocks. Hatcheries only account for 15% of the value of Alaskan salmon because they produce primarily low value pink and chum salmon.

Alaska has been no more successful with the hatcheries for the salmon of most concern to Washingtonians, chinook and coho, than Washington has.

As writer and philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”