Sockeye Released in Redfish Lake, Hatchery Opens
Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and officials with Idaho Fish and Game, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, the Bonneville Power Administration and NOAA Fisheries released the fish as part of the ongoing collaborative effort to ensure the continued existence of sockeye salmon, the first salmon species listed as endangered in 1991.
“This morning we put some red back in Redfish Lake,” said Fish and Game Director Cal Groen at a ceremony at the Eagle Hatchery later that day.
“These fish are so special. They are part of the landscape.”
Later in the day, officials dedicated a new sockeye salmon broodstock facility at Idaho Fish and Game’s Eagle Fish Hatchery. The facility doubles the hatchery’s capacity to maintain adult sockeye broodstock and triples the hatchery’s ability to produce sockeye eggs.
“This is a safety net,” Otter said. “This is an example of the untold good we can accomplish if we come together and set aside our biases and prejudices.”
The building cost nearly $4 million, paid for by Bonneville Power Administration, It is 14,400 square feet and will allow Fish and Game to raise 700 adult brood fish and produce 800,000 to 1 million eggs.
Nathan Small of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes recalls when the red fish of Red Fish Lake was just about extinct and when the tribes filed a petition to list the fish as endangered.
The fate of the fish depends on what states, tribes and federal agencies working together will do.
“The result is we have this place here,” Small said. “This is what we’re going to do with this fish – we’re not going to let it go extinct.”
The new hatchery building is an important part of salmon recovery, BPA Director Steve Wright said.
“But we can’t stop here,” he said. The agency also is working on habitat restoration and downstream survival through the eight federal hydropower dams on the lower Snake and Columbia rivers.
“Something we’re doing in the region is working,” he said, indicating the building holding 549 sockeye in tanks behind him.
The sockeye captive breeding program was started in May 1991, months before the fish was listed in November of that year under the Endangered Species Act.
For more information on the sockeye program visit the Fish and Game Web site at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/fish/sockeye/.