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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

February 11, 2010 at 10:08 AM

Virus wipes out winter steelhead eggs in Forks hatchery facility

Something bad was brewing in the waters of the Bogachiel Hatchery, and in the end about 250,000 winter steelhead eggs will be eliminated to prevent further damage.

In a news release from state Fish and Wildlife the virus, Infectious Hematopoietic Necrosis (IHN), a waterborne fish virus, was recently discovered in returning adult winter steelhead at the Bogachiel Hatchery.

Eggs taken from those fish at the hatchery will be destroyed because they could also have the infectious virus.

“There is no reliable test that will tell us if the eggs are infected,” Ron Warren, a state Fish and Wildlife regional fish program manager said in the news release.

“To ensure we don’t increase risks to wild fish in the Bogachiel River or spread the pathogen to other watersheds, we have decided to destroy the eggs. It’s unfortunate, but we must take a precautionary approach.”

Fisheries managers developed the response plan after meeting with the tribes and other natural resource management agencies.

To partially make up for the loss, about 130,000 winter steelhead eggs from the Makah Tribe’s Hoko Falls Hatchery will be transferred to the Bogachiel Hatchery for rearing and release. Those steelhead eggs are genetically similar to the fish raised at the Bogachiel Hatchery.

Receiving these eggs at this time guarantees continued production at the Bogachiel Hatchery.

“We appreciate the Makah Tribe stepping up and providing us these winter steelhead eggs,” said Warren. “These eggs will help make up for some of the production loss and provide for future fisheries in the basin.”

Juvenile steelhead at the Bogachiel Hatchery have been tested and are free of the virus.

IHN has no known cure and can be fatal to infected fish, but cannot be passed on to humans. The virus affects both wild and hatchery fish, including salmon and trout species, and is regularly detected in the Columbia River basin. The virus is spread from fish to fish.

State Fish and Wildlife will host a public meeting 10 a.m.-noon Feb. 13 at the Forks Sportsmans Club, 243 Sportsmans Club Road.

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