Into The Backing Podcast Ep. 04: Are Hatchery Fish Really That Bad?

This month’s episode has been brewing since the conception of the Anchored podcast in 2014. Over the last six years, we’ve discussed various concerns about the impact of hatchery fish in wild systems. Every time such an episode airs, it stimulates debate between “pro-hatchery” and “anti-hatchery” anglers. So, for years I’ve been asking hatchery advocates to give me the name of someone they wanted to hear from. The name they gave me was biologist Ian Courter. 

I’d arranged to meet with Ian, as well as the Wild Fish Conservancy’s Dr. Nick Gayeski and past Anchored guest and biologist John McMillan earlier this year. Flights were booked and conference rooms scheduled before Covid inevitably pushed this episode back. While we couldn’t get Nick on the call, John and Ian agreed to sit down for the first time to publicly share their viewpoints. 

Outline of this Episode 

  • [2:55] What is a hatchery fish?
  • [7:11] Why do people take such an extreme stance on this issue?
  • [26:44] What would Nick Gayeski say about the issue?
  • [28:49] How much money do hatchery fish cost?
  • [33:23] Scientists have done a poor job of studying the different ways that hatcheries are managed
  • [38:44] Lack of differing life histories affects the hatchery fish population
  • [52:03] What about the Montana example?
  • [1:03:02] We need big experiments to collect data
  • [1:10:43] When hatcheries are used for a few years they can jumpstart a fishery
  • [1:22:28] What can be done to solve these problems?

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