The Bee’s editorial on Dec. 22 (“We want to see a better plan from California’s water board”) repeats inaccurate statements about Central Valley salmon.
Due to fractional marking, we actually don’t know how many salmon that spawned in the Stanislaus and Tuolumne rivers in recent years were from hatcheries. We do know that the majority of them did not bear the mark (a missing fin) denoting hatchery origin. We also know that there were many hatchery strays during that time, largely due to out-planting during the drought.
The need for out-planting was created, in part, by providing waivers to increase supplies to water contractors during such dry conditions. More importantly, hatchery-raised salmon are indisputably “native,” as they are derived from native wild salmon stocks.
While hatchery salmon may be less fit to survive than wild fish, they function as seed banks for wild populations, and buffer against the impacts of dams and excessive diversions from our rivers. It’s important to be clear on such distinctions, and to rely on the most factual information, as California strives to better balance the water needs of its wildlife and landscapes with those of its human residents.
Rene Henery, Mount Shasta