In the first systematic attempt to reform Washington State’s fish-hatchery system — the world’s largest — the Hatchery Scientific Review Group issued a report yesterday recommending the closure of one Puget Sound-area hatchery and alterations for 22 others. The salmon born in Washington State’s 100-plus hatcheries are thought to pose a threat to wild salmon because they compete for space in rivers and for food and threaten to wipe out critical genetic variation. The report included 218 pointers encouraging state and tribal fishery managers to, in a nutshell, emphasize quality over quantity and imitate Mother Nature when planning hatcheries. The recommendations were immediately endorsed by Gov. Gary Locke (D), who pledged $8 million for hatchery reform despite the state’s considerable budget shortfall.

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