A salmon fishing boat is doing something a little different for Chinook in California.
Instead of catching the fish, it’s giving them a lift out to the Pacific Ocean. The vessel, called the Merva, is transporting 200,000 young Chinook. The adolescent fish are from state fish hatcheries. The boat is normally used to catch the fish, but it’s been specially converted for transport.
The reason? Help the Chinook get to the ocean to try and boost survival rates.
“We’re trying to show that barging salmon, these smelts down the river will increase their survival rate, we think significantly,” says former salmon fisherman Rob Tillitz.
Chinook are native to California. They spawn in freshwater rivers and swim to the ocean. However, dams, traffic, and fishing have put a dent in the return rate. That’s why the Merva is hauling young fish to the ocean. Over the past five years, 1 million Chinook have been shipped out to the ocean.
The fish that the Merva is dropping off in Sausalito Bay have been tagged in order to see if they do make it back to spawn.