Editorial: Cuts in federal hatchery funds will hurt Yakama Nation
"The Yakama Nation and federal government are navigating some tricky political currents in the latest controversy over fish habitat.

The National Marine Fisheries Service wants to rebuild wild fish populations by limiting hatchery fish, saying the latter dilute the stronger and more productive wild fish runs.

But the Yakama Nation, which long has advocated restoration of wild fish runs, says the federal government is risking turbulence by moving too fast, too soon. Nation biologists say wild runs aren't productive enough yet to eliminate or severely reduce hatchery fish.

Both sides seem to back up their cases with stories of record numbers of fall and spring chinook returning to the Columbia River Basin. Hatchery fish provided a coho fishing season last fall in the Yakima River, where they haven't been seen in years.

The crux of the issue is whether hatchery fish should mingle with the wild variety. The tribe 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."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Now's not the time to eliminate federal hatchery funding (The Yakima Herald-Republic 12/1)