Hatchery will free thousands of tiny salmon in survival experiment

Record Searchlight –

Will hatchery-raised salmon have a better chance of surviving their journey to the Pacific Ocean and back if they get a 75-mile head start?

That’s the question a three-year study hopes to answer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and four partner organizations.

The plan Saturday is to release 180,000 salmon fry into the Sacramento River 75 miles downriver from the Coleman National Fish Hatchery. A tanker truck will take the young salmon from the hatchery outside Anderson to Scotty’s Landing in Chico for the fish’s intended journey to the ocean under the Golden Gate Bridge.

“If we can boost survival of the fish by even 20% to 40%, it’s a great step forward to add fish to the fishery,” said John McManus, president of the Golden Gate Salmon Association.

McManus said his group proposed the experiment to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the agency agreed to give it a try.

The fish will be funneled into a portable, floating pen in the river — guided by jet boats — so they can get used to the water and get their bearings before they’re set free.

The study will try to determine if the fish’s chance of survival will significantly improve without more of the salmon straying, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife says.

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