Millions of Salmon Migrating ... by Truck
California's drought makes normal annual rite too risky
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 16, 2014 2:00 PM CDT
In this photo taken Friday, May 9, 2014, young Chinook salmon move through a plastic pipe as they are loaded into a tanker truck at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery in Rancho Cordova, Calif.   (Rich Pedroncelli)

(Newser) – In drought-stricken California, young Chinook salmon are hitting the road, not the river, to get to the Pacific Ocean. Millions of six-month-old smolts are hitching rides in tanker trucks because California's historic drought has depleted rivers and streams, making the annual migration to the ocean too dangerous for juvenile salmon. "The drought conditions have caused lower flows in the rivers, warmer water temperatures, and the fish that would normally be swimming down the rivers would be very susceptible to predation and thermal stress," explains a fishery biologist with the Fishery Foundation of California.

California has been trucking hatchery-raised salmon for years to bypass river dams and giant pumps that funnel water to Southern California and Central Valley farms. But this year state and federal wildlife agencies are trucking nearly 27 million smolts, about 50% more than normal, because of the drought, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Trucking the smolts ensures a large number will survive and grow to be the California king salmon prized by fishermen and seafood lovers. But skipping the river journey means the migratory fish won't know how to swim home to spawn in three years. The commercial and recreational fishing industries have been pushing for the expanded trucking program to increase the chances of a decent salmon season in 2016, when the smolts released this year will be adults.

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Showing 3 of 7 comments
karibdis
Jun 19, 2014 12:16 AM CDT
are you kidding!?! fracking...you mean a privet company producing a useful domestic petroleum product that results in paying less at the gas pump, at the grocery store...etc. vs a government subsidized and (mandated) ethanol manufacturing that uses millions of gallons of water to get a thimble full of a useless liquid that destroys car/truck engines and takes tons of a main food source; corn, out of the food chain for both man and animal. TELL ME WHICH SYSTEM IS CORRUPT?!? MONEY OUT OF POLITICS...I DO AGREE!!
Ezekiel 25:17
Jun 16, 2014 8:59 PM CDT
Reminds me of an old episode of Wallace Wildlife when he is at this nice fishing spot on a local lake. Soon this big tanker truck backs up 100 feet near him and offloads fully grown crappies. Soon he's catching them like there's no tomorrow. He says, "Sometimes God is with you."
Scaramouche
Jun 16, 2014 2:38 PM CDT
" Trucking the smolts ensures a large number will survive and grow to be the California king salmon prized by fishermen and seafood lovers. But skipping the river journey means the migratory fish won't know how to swim home to spawn in three years. " Then what's the damn point?