Some consequences of Pacific salmon hatchery production in Kamchatka: changes in age structure and contributions to natural spawning populations
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- Zaporozhets, O.M. & Zaporozhets, G.V. Environ Biol Fish (2012) 94: 219. doi:10.1007/s10641-011-9932-x
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Aggregate hatchery production of Pacific salmon in the Kamchatka region of the Russian Federation is very low (< 0.5% of total harvest, with five hatcheries releasing approximately 41 M juvenile salmon annually), but contributions in certain rivers can be substantial. Enhancement programs in these rivers may strongly influence fitness and production of wild salmon. In this paper we document significant divergence in demographic traits in hatchery salmon populations in the Bolshaya River and we estimate the proportion of hatchery chum salmon in the total run in the Paratunka River to demonstrate the magnitude of enhancement in this system. We observed a reduction in the expression of life history types in hatchery populations (ranging from 1 to 9 types) compared to wild populations (17 types) of sockeye salmon in the Bolshaya River. We found similar trends in Chinook salmon in the same river system. This reduced life history diversity may make these fish less resilient to changes in habitat and climate. We estimate hatchery chum salmon currently contribute 17-45% to the natural spawning population in the Paratunka River. As hatchery fish increase in numbers at natural spawning sites, this hatchery production may affect wild salmon production. It is important to investigate the risk of introgression between hatchery and wild salmon that can lead to reduction in salmon fitness in Kamchatka rivers, as well as the potential of ecological interactions that can have consequences on status of wild salmon and overall salmon production in this region.