Hatchery reform policy and scientific review

Public meetings

April 11, 2019 -  1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
South Puget Sound Community College - Lacey, WA


On June 15, 2018, the Fish and Wild Commission (FWC) directed the agency to review and update its Hatchery and Fishery Reform Policy (C-3619). The policy was originally adopted in November 2009 to advance the conservation and recovery of wild salmon and steelhead by promoting and guiding the implementation of hatchery reform.

The FWC directed the agency to initiate a review of all sections and aspects of the policy, including specifically:

  • performance evaluation of the policy since adoption
  • update of the science
  • possible policy revisions

During this review period, the FWC directed the agency to leave the policy in effect except for policy guidelines 1, 2, and 3, which were to be suspended for salmon species other than steelhead. Policy guidelines 1, 2, and 3 address respectively, hatchery reform scientific standards, broodstock management guidance, and development of watershed scale hatchery management plans.

The purpose of suspending policy guidelines 1, 2, and 3 for salmon species other than steelhead was to allow for some flexibility in hatchery production for Southern Resident Killer Whales while still providing adequate protection of wild fish.

Project elements

The guidance by the FWC resulted in three general project elements: 1) stakeholder outreach and engagement, 2) a thorough policy evaluation, and 3) a review of the scientific literature. Each of these efforts will be summarized and recommendations will be presented to the FWC for possible hatchery and fishery reform policy revisions. Below is a summary of each of these project elements.

Stakeholder Outreach and Engagement

To ensure a transparent public process and agency to tribe engagement, WDFW has initiated two separate but parallel processes. One will involve direct outreach to individual tribes, and will be led by WDFW. The other outreach process will target interested stakeholders and partners and will be led by a consultant working closely with WDFW.

Policy Evaluation

To ensure a thorough policy evaluation, the agency will review all aspects of the Hatchery and Fishery Reform Policy (C-3619) and will report back to the FWC on the performance of the policy since its adoption in 2009. This review will include an evaluation of each of the 11 policy guidelines.

Science Review and Update

To ensure an independent scientific review process, the agency will work closely with the Washington State Academy of Sciences (WSAS). WDFW will be the lead authors on the review, and WSAS will guide the review. The WSAS guidance will involve a review of the early drafts, facilitation of a science workshop, and an independent third party peer-review of the final products.


To ensure the information is summarized and has adequate time for public comments for a FWC decision, WDFW staff will summarize the key findings and provide recommendations to the FWC. Recommendation and any policy revisions will be presented to the FWC and will be subject to public comments over the course of several months following the delivery of the work products.

General Timeline

Summer and Fall 2018 – Early engagement with partners and stakeholders following the FWC decision to review the policy. This involved agency responses to partners, project scoping and planning, and initiation of the working groups. 

Winter and Summer 2019 – Policy evaluation, science review, and stakeholder and tribal outreach. This will involve interviews, meetings, and workshops necessary to ensure there is a robust public and tribal engagement process alongside the working groups.

Fall and Winter 2019/20 – Fish & Wildlife Commission presentations and public comments periods. This will involve the FWC processes to hear from WDFW staff, review the products, and move towards a decision to revise the policy. 

How to Stay Informed?

Eric Kinne, Hatchery Division Manager
Andrew Murdoch, Eastern Washington Science Manager