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Disoriented Salmon

So, you can see this fish business isn't an exact science.

Dec 29, 2017

The scientists who attempt to maintain or increase California salmon are often wrong about their estimates of how many salmon they will produce with their efforts.  According to the article below "the federal Coleman National Fish Hatchery tries to produce about 12 million fall-run Chinook salmon"...but because it's the farthest Sacramento hatchery from the Pacific they decided to suck them into tanker trucks, drive them to the Delta where they would be acclimated for their swim to the ocean.  The biologists now think that trucking the salmon badly disoriented them and only a small fraction made it back when they returned as adults.  "As many as 143,000 adult fish will return to the Coleman hatchery to spawn in a normal year. In 2017, only around 3,000 adults returned, enough to fertilize about 4 million eggs – well shy of the hatchery’s 12 million goal."


So, you can see this fish business isn't an exact science.  When they take water away from other uses, they don't have to be right about their estimated results.  "It’s hard to say whether Coleman’s low numbers will harm future salmon fishing seasons, said Mark Clifford, a state fisheries biologist."


There's no penalty for fish scientists being wrong.  Instead, farmers will be penalized.  Our guess is that if future seasons are bad, the cure will be to take more water from farmers to help the fish.  Farmers would feel a lot better about all this if the science actually worked.  We're not scientists, but we could have guessed that trucking salmon to the Delta instead of letting them swim would leave them disoriented.  Salmon swim back to the same water they came from, so if they came in a truck instead of the river...what would we expect?  Confusion. 

This fact further reveals the futility of the San Joaquin River Settlement Program.  With climate warming already indicating that restoring a self-sustaining salmon fishery on the S.J. River is a costly fool's errand, and with salmon trucking being an integral part of the Program, this should bring reasonable folks to abandon the Program saving millions of dollars and returning water to the communities and farms of the East San Joaquin Valley.  With another dry year, it is time politicians put people and their lives above foolhardy environmental fantasies.

Why California’s most productive salmon hatchery is millions of fish short

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