The National Marine Fisheries Service in a document made public Friday says 23 hatchery programs could produce fish genetically similar to their wild but struggling cousins and should have the option of receiving federal protections.
The agency recently completed a five-year review and plans no changes to the threatened or endangered status for the salmon and steelhead found in California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho.
The review included 330 hatchery programs. About half of those are already involved in boosting listed salmon and steelhead populations.
Other hatchery programs are intended to produce large numbers of fish for anglers.
Public comments are being taken through Dec. 20.