THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking public input on the selection of at least three Puget Sound rivers where hatchery steelhead would not be released by the department in an additional effort to conserve wild fish.
WDFW will designate at least one wild steelhead management zone or “gene bank” in each of three Puget Sound regions
Hood Canal and Strait of Juan de Fuca;
Central and South Puget Sound;
North Puget Sound (North Cascades rivers).
Studies have shown that steelhead produced at a hatchery can compete with wild steelhead, and that interbreeding can reduce survival rates for wild steelhead, said Jim Scott, director of WDFW’s fish program.
“We’re seeking public input on which rivers within each region should be selected for establishing a wild steelhead gene bank,” Scott said.
More information is available online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/steelhead/gene_bank/, where a comment form will be available by July 13. Comments provided at public meetings or through the online form by Aug. 13 will be used by WDFW to inform the selection of the wild steelhead management zones.
Gene banks are one of a number of management strategies identified by the department’s Statewide Steelhead Management Plan, adopted by the Fish and Wildlife Commission in 2008. Last year, the department designated three tributaries of the lower Columbia River as wild steelhead gene banks.
An informational workshop will be held from 5 to 9 p.m., July 13 at the Phinney Center, 6532 Phinney Ave. N., Seattle. At the workshop, the public can learn more about the Statewide Steelhead Management Plan, WDFW’s hatchery programs and the status of Puget Sound steelhead.
The department also is hosting three public meetings in July to discuss the proposal and take public comments. Each meeting will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on the following dates at these locations:
Seattle – July 21, Phinney Center (room 7), 6532 Phinney Ave. N.
Mount Vernon – July 27, Skagit PUD, 1415 Freeway Dr.
Sequim – July 28, Trinity Methodist Church, 100 S. Blake Ave.
The department will make a decision later this year after reviewing public comments and discussing the proposals with tribal co-managers.