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GSSA Supports Additional Hatchery Salmon Production at Feather River Hatchery

San Francisco  —  The Feather River hatchery will release millions of extra young salmon in early 2023 to help offset salmon losses caused by drought.  The hatchery fertilized millions more eggs than it needed this year on the assumption the eggs might be needed by other Central Valley hatcheries due to low returns of adult fish in 2022.  The other hatcheries, including Nimbus on the American River, the Mokelumne on the Mokelumne River and Coleman hatchery on Battle Creek, all ended up getting enough eggs in their own watersheds.  The question immediately arose of what to do with the extra eggs.  The California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), which runs the Feather River hatchery, recognized the value of hatching the eggs in light of drought losses.

Different ideas were discussed about how long to rear the salmon, with consideration to the limited space at the Feather River hatchery and other factors.

“The Golden State Salmon Association told CDFW it strongly supports allowing the eggs to hatch and adding them to the fishery,” said GSSA president John McManus.  “The drought has decimated salmon runs in the Central Valley and we’re very grateful to CDFW for taking the initiative and helping keep the salmon industry afloat. These fish will help many people throughout California that rely on salmon to make a living or to help feed their family.”

“Salmon stocks are extremely precarious now due to both drought and the thiamine deficiency (vitamin B1) in adult salmon, which is leading to weak offspring,” said GSSA’s McManus.  “Naturally spawning salmon are not doing well which means we’re relying on hatchery salmon to reboot stocks.  Making more hatchery salmon costs money and we appreciate state agencies covering these costs and adding these salmon.  These additional salmon will help keep the species going at levels that support a fishery, while contributing to the rebuilding of the runs in the Central Valley.  GSSA appreciates the work of all the agencies involved, especially CDFW, in giving these fish a chance, and the people that rely on them some hope.”

An estimated 1.5 to 1.7 million of these fish will be released directly into the Feather River. Others will be reared a little longer and then trucked to release sites in San Pablo or San Francisco Bay in order to avoid hostile conditions expected in the river if drought persists into the spring.

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