Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Environmental Studies

Department or School/College

Environmental Studies

Committee Chair

Len Broberg

Commitee Members

Shawn Johnson, Shoren Brown


policy, salmon, hatchery, hatcheries, Alaska, evaluation


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Natural Resources and Conservation | Natural Resources Management and Policy


Using an adapted Ecological Risk Assessment (ERA) - Evaluation, this study analyzes policy regulating Alaska salmon hatcheries to evaluate its effectiveness at sustaining wild salmon runs.When Alaska became a state in 1959, its salmon industry was suffering from years of overfishing. Runs were at an all-time low, prompting constitutional drafters to mandate management of salmon via the sustained yield principle. The hatchery system that operates today and is responsible for a third of the commercial catch each year was put in place in the 1970s to help supplement depressed salmon runs. The effects of hatchery salmon on wild salmon populations are escapement inflation from strays, interbreeding of strays and wild salmon, genetic introgression and loss of fitness of hatchery-wild offspring, the potential spread of disease, and competition for food. Policy was created to mitigate these risks and ensure a sustained wild Alaska salmon population. This policy analysis follows the steps of a traditional ERA– planning process, problem formulation, analysis, and risk characterization–and adapts it to evaluate the effectiveness of current policy regulating Alaska salmon hatcheries. Overall, the policy in place does an effective job at minimizing risk and ensuring sustained runs of wild salmon, however, there are critical gaps in enforcement and regulation, the timeliness of the genetic policy, research on straying and other effects of hatchery salmon, and the involvement of stakeholders in the decision-making process.


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