Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 4956
Title: Dispelling some myths about hatcheries
Author: Robin S. Waples
Publication Year: 1999
Journal: Fisheries
Volume: 24
Issue: 2
Pages: 12-21

Contributing to the controversies that have surrounded fish hatcheries in recent years are a number of misconceptions or myths about hatcheries and their effects on natural populations.  These myths impede productive dialogue among those with differing views about hatcheries.  Most of the myths include a measure of truth, which makes it difficult to recognize the elements that are not true.  Consideration of these myths leads to the following conclusions: 

  1. Hatcheries are intrinsically neither good nor bad--their value can be determined only in the context of clearly defined goals;
  2. genetic changes in cultured populations can be reduced but not eliminated entirely;
  3. empirical evidence exists of many adverse effects of hatcheries, but some risks have been overstated; and
  4. monitoring and evaluation programs are important but should not be used as a substitute for developing risk-averse hatchery programs in the first place.

A key step in resolving some of the controversies will be moving toward agreement on a common version (rather than two or more separate versions) of the realities about hatcheries.  More efforts are needed in four major areas:  identifying goals, conducting overall cost:benefit analyses to guide policy decisions, improving the information base, and dealing with uncertainty.

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