California salmon may soon be hitching a ride by truck to the Pacific Ocean.
On Monday, state and federal wildlife officials announced a plan to ship millions of young hatchery raised California salmon to the Pacific Ocean, if the state’s record drought continues to dry up rivers.
The Sacramento Bee reported that wildlife officials are worried the state’s shrinking rivers are becoming too shallow and warm for young hatchery-raised salmon to make their migratory journey to the Pacific ocean.
Learn More About the California DroughtCalifornia is experiencing a record drought that is endangering the state's salmon.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said that if drought conditions worsen, they will start moving salmon from the Coleman National Fish Hatchery on Battle Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River in Northern California, to the San Pablo Bay near Vallejo. Coleman produces 12 million fall-run Chinook salmon every year.
California successfully trucked salmon to the sea during the state’s 1991-92 drought; however, they will only ship them if the state’s rivers are in dire condition.
“We don’t want to truck them down if conditions aren’t going to be as bad as we think they’re going to be,” said Bob Clarke, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fisheries program supervisor.
The shipping method works, but it does does have its drawbacks. The main concern is that the salmon will experience irregular temperature changes during transit. In previous shipping attempts, the salmon experienced a shock when they were released back into the ocean, and many of them became vulnerable to predators.
Federal officials are also considering a project that would use a river barge instead of a truck to move California salmon to the Pacific. The advantage of the barge is that it protects the fish from predators and keeps them in water temperatures and conditions consistent to the river.
California is in the midst of a record drought that is endangering salmon and other fish species. The state has already instituted temporary fishing bans on several rivers and fisheries. Commercial and sport salmon fishing represents a multi-billion dollar industry in California.
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