OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has scheduled a public meeting Saturday, Feb. 13, in Forks to discuss plans to destroy about 250,000 winter steelhead eggs at the Bogachiel Hatchery, where a waterborne fish virus was recently discovered.
The meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon at the Forks Sportsmans Club, 243 Sportsmans Club Road.
The virus, Infectious Hematopoietic Necrosis (IHN), 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, said Ron Warren, regional fish program manager for WDFW.
“There is no reliable test that will tell us if the eggs are infected,” said Warren. “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.”
WDFW 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, said Warren. 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, said Warren.
“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, said Warren.
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.