Story at a glance

  • Western states are on the verge of a permanent drought.
  • Hot, dry conditions are causing water temperatures to surge and diminishing currents that salmon in California rely on.
  • California is attempting to save its salmon population by releasing 17 million salmon into the San Francisco Bay.

With Western states on the verge of a permanent drought, California is attempting to save its salmon population by releasing 17 million salmon into the San Francisco Bay. 

Hot, dry conditions are causing water temperatures to surge and diminishing currents the salmon rely on. To bypass the difficulties, chinook salmon from four Central Valley hatcheries will be transported to sites around the San Pablo, San Francisco, Half Moon, and Monterey bays in hopes of increasing their chances at survival as these bay areas contain colder water and stronger currents downstream. 

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is "utilizing lessons learned from the past 15 or more years of salmon releases and the last drought to maximize release success,” said Jason Julienne, the CDFW's North Central Region Hatchery supervisor.

The CDFW estimates it will take about 146 truckloads traveling more than 30,000 miles to transport all of the fish. 


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"Trucking young salmon to downstream release sites has proven to be one of the best ways to increase survival to the ocean during dry conditions," said Julienne.

The prime conditions and locations of the release sites will allow the salmon to travel to colder ocean waters where they can thrive.

In addition to aiding the survival of the salmon, the transport and flourishing populations will by extension make a "significant contribution to California's economy" through recreational fishing and salmon sales.

"In the short term, this [initiative] gives us hope,” John McManus, an environmentalist and executive director of the Golden State Salmon Association, told CBS. “And we're happy that they're moving these fish. But it's also a very sad testament to what's happening with our rivers in the middle of this state."


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Published on Jun 10, 2021