Parkdale, OR - People on the West Coast have counted on fish hatcheries for more than a century to help rebuild populations of salmon and steelhead and bring them to a level where government would no longer need to regulate fisheries.
But hatcheries have thus far failed to resurrect wild fish runs and artificially bred fish have come to dominate rivers. Critics say their influx harms wild salmon and masks the fact that wild populations are barely hanging on.
Now, hatcheries are facing court challenges in Oregon, California and Washington state -- though state and federal officials say they are already working to address the problems they cause.
The disputes illustrate a tension over how to balance the needs of wild fish with the economic and cultural needs of fishermen and tribes.