Pacific salmon are foundationally important to Canada’s wildlife, food security, cultures, and economy. Yet, salmon numbers have declined a lot in the last two decades despite millions of dollars invested annually in hatcheries.
Growing evidence indicates that billions of hungry fry are creating an environment where competition is steep and food is limited. This is only one way that the release of hatchery fish causes problems for the recovery of wild salmon.
So if hatcheries that fertilize eggs in buckets and raise fish in tanks only make the problem for wild salmon worse, how do we recover salmon?
In a nutshell, we need to invest in habitat protection, habitat restoration, and far better decision-making at all levels of government to prioritize the resilience of species and ecosystems. This gives wild salmon, and the myriad of other species that would benefit from habitat protection, the best chance at adapting to a changing climate and rebuilding their populations.