ANDERSON, Calif. — The Coleman National Fish Hatchery released 600,000 juvenile chinook salmon into the Sacramento River last week. This is only part of the two million hatched in October, and the rest will be released in early January.
The Golden State Salmon Association originally brought the idea to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA fisheries in the spring. John McManus, president of the organization, said they were being produced in excess of the normal production target at the hatchery.
"These are extra," McManus said. "This is an extra 2,000,000 fish being produced by Coleman, which will really help those of us who rely on the fishery in about 3 years when these fish come back as adults."
Drought has greatly impacted salmon populations and their ecosystem. Now, thanks to winter storms, there is more water, allowing the hatchery to release the fish early.
“Fish that naturally spawned around Redding, and all the way up to the Keswick Dam, were in short supply because of the drought," McManus said. "The release of these fish last week, and the rest of the batch in early January, hopefully, will help restock the salmon fishery in the upper Sacramento River, which is a great thing for the fishery; it's a great thing for the environment. The rain really helps these fish survive when they hit the river and one of the reasons why is it stirs up the mud it creates turbidity in the river and the predators have a harder time seeing fish."
The fish were released into the upper Sacramento River and the hope is the salmon will have an impact on the salmon has on the natural spawning population.
When fish are released, they have conventional coded wire tags attached to their nose. However, because the fish were released earlier and smaller, they were not able to do the traditional tracking method. McManus said they took tissue samples from the parents of juveniles and in three years when this batch of salmon returns they will get similar samples to determine survival rates.
“It's a new technology," McManus said. "It's an exciting technology; it allows the hatchery to release the fish at a smaller size, it allows them to release more fish, it allows them to track these fish three years from now, and, hopefully, this will be a great benefit for the fishery."
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