Well, for one thing, they have a huge negative impact on wild fish populations. This is why when my husband and I catch a hatchery salmon or steelhead (you can tell by the adipose fin being clipped), if at all possible, we kill and eat it.
The WSC (Wild Steelhead Coalition) has provided useful information about why hatcheries do more harm than good for wild steelhead and salmon:
“The ecological impacts of hatcheries are also increasingly being highlighted as cause for concern for wild populations. Production hatcheries release several billion hatchery salmon and steelhead each year. These fish, often larger than their wild counterparts compete for finite resources with wild fish, prey upon wild juveniles, spread disease, and attract predators. Furthermore, many of these fish will remain in freshwater and wild fish in most systems are subject to competition and predation from residualized hatchery fish.”
Read the whole article Here
There is a lot that people can do to help, but the easiest way to do your part to help save wild populations of salmon and steelhead, is by educating yourself and getting involved with organizations that have already started the dirty work for you.
To name just a few organizations that are doing their best at conservation projects:
While we are on the topic of conservation, there is a big reason why I support clothing companies like Patagonia: THEY CARE.
“We can’t pose Patagonia as the model of a responsible company. We don’t do everything a responsible company can do, nor does anyone else we know. But we can tell you how we came to realize our environmental and social responsibilities, and then began to act on them. Like other things in human life, it began with one step that led to another.” -Yvon Chouinard and Vincent Stanley
Read about why the company that not only stands behind their quality, but also stands behind the environment that allows us to keep enjoying the outdoors: http://www.patagonia.com/us/environmentalism