‘Controlling the genetics’ in spawning salmon

Thousands of salmon spawn on the Washougal River

In this photo taken on Tuesday Feb. 4, 2014, at at a hatchery in Parkdale, Ore., hatchery technician Keith Moody feeds about 30,000 salmon smolts in a rearing pond. People on the West Coast have counted on fish hatcheries for more than a century to help rebuild populations of salmon and steelhead and bring them to a level where government would no longer need to regulate fisheries. (AP Photo/Gosia Wozniacka)
In this photo taken on Tuesday Feb. 4, 2014, at at a hatchery in Parkdale, Ore., hatchery technician Keith Moody feeds about 30,000 salmon smolts in a rearing pond. People on the West Coast have counted on fish hatcheries for more than a century to help rebuild populations of salmon and steelhead and bring them to a level where government would no longer need to regulate fisheries. (AP Photo/Gosia Wozniacka)

WASHOUGAL, Wash. (KOIN 6) — About 9 miles upriver from downtown Washougal is a weir — a fishtrap — that stops some salmon from migrating further upstream.

About a half-mile further upstream on the Washougal River is where Mary Grode lives. She doesn’t appreciate the fish blockade.

“My kids and I used to watch them go by in the hundreds and we’d count them,” she said. “Now there’s maybe four or five.”

Eric Kinne with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said the agency is working to restore the wild population. That means separating hatchery fish from the natural population.

About 1,000 wild salmon were allowed to continue past the weir to spawn, and 3800 more fish were collected for broodstock at the hatchery.

But another 6500 were turned into what the department calls “nutrient enchancement.”

“What we’re trying to do,” Kinne said, “is control the genetics on the natural spawning grounds.”

It’s being done to comply with the Endangered Species Act, but that is an explanation people like Mary Grode will never agree with.

“Why can’t they leave the whole thing alone, close the fish hatchery and let the fish do their own thing?” she said.

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