Idaho Fish and Game recently reached an agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to assume operations of the Hagerman National Fish Hatchery, which raises about 1.6 million juvenile steelhead for release in the Upper Salmon River Basin.
Fish and Game’s Fisheries Bureau Chief Jim Fredericks said benefits of the transfer include greater efficiency and better integration with fisheries management and research programs. Fish and Game currently owns and operates an adjacent trout hatchery in Hagerman.
Fredericks also noted that Idaho’s steelhead angling opportunities are directly affected by the hatchery’s ability to achieve adult return objectives.
“As the principal manager of Idaho fisheries supported by this hatchery, we are directly accountable to anglers. We feel this agreement allows us to better serve the people of Idaho,” Fredericks said.
The Hagerman hatchery is one of 10 salmon and steelhead hatcheries operating under the congressionally authorized Lower Snake River Compensation Plan, which is a mitigation program funded by Bonneville Power Administration for lost natural fish production and harvest opportunity caused by hydropower development.
No spawning or adult holding occurs at the Hagerman national hatchery, instead, eggs are collected at adult trapping facilities operated by Fish and Game staff in the Salmon River Basin and delivered to the hatchery.
With this new agreement, Fish and Game will operate five of the 10 Lower Snake River compensation hatcheries. Three others are operated by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and two are operated by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
As with the nine other compensation hatcheries, Hagerman will remain property of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The transfer to Fish and Game is only for operations, and funding for hatchery operations will continue to be paid by the Bonneville Power Administration.
Fredericks is confident the transition will be smooth as Fish and Game takes over operational responsibilities at the hatchery starting in October.
“We have tremendously competent and dedicated staff, and we know the business of raising fish,” he said.