The editorial board of the Yakima Herald-Republic states “Now’s not the time to eliminate federal hatchery funding”
The paper supports the Yakama Nation call for the federal government to slow down in its proposal to cut salmon hatchery funding.
Apparently, the National Marine Fisheries Service wants to rebuild wild fish populations by limiting hatchery fish. But the Yakama Nation fish biologists say wild runs are not productive enough yet to eliminate or severely reduce hatchery fish.
The crux of the dispute is whether hatchery fish should mingle with wild fish. The tribe apparently allows a certain number of hatchery fish into wild spawning areas as a way to boost reproduction. But a draft environmental statement from the NMFS suggests mixing hatchery and native fish in the same spawning areas produces inferior fish and slows the restoration of wild runs.
The editorial states that Yakama tribal leaders, fear that budget cutting concerns are driving the direction of the NMFS, and that the federal proposal will undo their victories in court to restore fish and protect their treaty fishing rights.
TheNez Perce, Umatilla, and Warm Springs tribes also oppose the move.