Weir helps protect WA hatchery fish gone wild

Weir helps protect WA hatchery fish gone wild

Weir helps protect WA hatchery fish gone wild

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by GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News

kgw.com

Posted on October 2, 2012 at 10:32 AM

It looks like a fence stretching all the way across the Nisqually River and basically that it what it is. The Nisqually Indian Tribe installed a weir, which acts like a fence to capture all salmon that bypass the tribe's hatchery.

Nisqually fish biologist David Troutt explains the wild salmon runs on the Nisqually vanished decades ago. The hatchery was installed to give the river a man-made run but over the years, some of those hatchery fish went wild.
  
Some hearty hatchery chinook rejected the impulse to return to the hatchery and followed ancient instincts to spawn in the wild. Now, generations of naturally spawned salmon are returning and biologists feel are establishing a new, wild salmon run. That could help the river return to a more natural, functional system.

To protect those rogue fish from competition from new hatchery strays, the tribe installed the weir, which forces all fish passing the hatchery into traps. Workers inspect them and harvest all the hatchery fish. The wild fish are sent back into the river to spawn naturally upstream.

It's hoped it's a new beginning for a wild fish run on the Nisqually or at least as close as you can get to one.

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