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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes
COLEMAN NFH: Agencies Partner to Transport and Release 1.4 Million Fall Chinook Salmon to San Pablo Bay
Region 8, May 15, 2009
Caption 1.  Early in the morning Coleman National Fish Hatchery personnel load up a distribution truck bound for San Pablo Bay. Light sets borrowed from U.S. Bureau of Reclamation provided ability for employees to work prior to sunrise. USFWS photo.
Caption 1. Early in the morning Coleman National Fish Hatchery personnel load up a distribution truck bound for San Pablo Bay. Light sets borrowed from U.S. Bureau of Reclamation provided ability for employees to work prior to sunrise. USFWS photo. - Photo Credit: n/a
Caption 2. Federal and State employees discuss the final details of loading fall Chinook 
smolts into a distribution truck bound for San Pablo Bay. USFWS photo.
Caption 2. Federal and State employees discuss the final details of loading fall Chinook smolts into a distribution truck bound for San Pablo Bay. USFWS photo. - Photo Credit: n/a
Caption 3.  Fall Chinook salmon are off loaded into net pens in San Pablo Bay. Photo courtesy of Terrance Freije.
Caption 3. Fall Chinook salmon are off loaded into net pens in San Pablo Bay. Photo courtesy of Terrance Freije. - Photo Credit: n/a

by Brett Galyean, Coleman NFH
Fishery program staff from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Game and others joined forces this month for a four-day salmon stocking operation that aims to increase the potential for a future ocean fishery for fall Chinook salmon in northern California. Personnel from the Service’s Coleman National Fish Hatchery (NFH) and Feather River State Fish Hatchery (SFH) worked long hours May 12-15 to transport approximately 1.4 million fall Chinook salmon smolts from Coleman NFH in Anderson, Calif., to San Pablo Bay. This is the second consecutive year smolt have made the 180 mile trip from Coleman NFH to San Pablo Bay. Last year, using only Coleman NFH personnel and equipment, the operation took 10 days to complete. This year, however, with the much appreciated assistance of personnel and trucks from the California Feather River SFH, the task was completed in only four days.

The start time for each work day and the actual release site was determined by the tidal schedule.  Smolt were released at two different release sites: on incoming tides near Conoco Phillips near Rodeo, Calif.,  and on outgoing tides near Birth 17 at Mare Island in Vallejo, Calif.  With truck arrival time at the Bay set for 10:00a.m., working backwards and calculating 2 plus hours to load the fish into the trucks and a 4-5 hour drive to the net pen site, personnel began working at 2:30 a.m. Besides the three to four drivers, there were 6 to 7 other staff members working each morning; setting up pumps/hoses, crowding fish, operating forklifts to move equipment, and putting ice and salt into the truck tanks. Two portable lights sets, borrowed from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, allowed for operation during the dark hours of early morning and increased the safety of those working around the pumps, trucks, and raceways. 

The fish and transport trucks were monitored frequently to assure fish health and safety during transport. Once the trucks were loaded with fish, personnel would measure and record the water temperature and dissolved oxygen levels in the tank. During transport drivers would stop several times to record water temperature and dissolved oxygen levels in the tank, and make adjustments to the life support systems if necessary.

At the release site, another level of cooperation began.  At the release site, the salmon smolts were transferred into acclimation net pens operated by the Fishery Foundation of California (FFC), a non-profit organization funded by the Bay Delta Sport Fishery Enhancement Stamp.  While in the net pens, the smolts were provided a short time to acclimate to the water temperature and salinity and, in general, recover from the truck transport.  Using a boat, personnel from the FFC pulled the net pens away from shore and out into the Bay where the fish were then released.  

During the four day effort, all schedules were maintained and all fish were loaded, transported (via truck and net pen) and released healthy and without incident.  This could not have been accomplished without exceptional cooperation and coordination between the personnel from all the agencies/organizations involved.

The Coleman NFH, located on Battle Creek approximately five miles upstream from the confluence of Battle Creek and the Sacramento River, was constructed in 1942 as part of the mitigation measures to help preserve significant runs of Chinook salmon threatened by the loss of natural spawning areas resulting from the construction of Shasta and Keswick dams on the upper Sacramento River. In addition to the smolts that were trucked to San Pablo Bay in May of 2009, Coleman NFH also released 12.6 million fall Chinook smolts on site during the month of April 2009. Fall Chinook salmon produced at Coleman NFH are expected to contribute to harvests of salmon in the Pacific Ocean commercial fishery, Pacific Ocean sport fishery, and in-river fishery on the Sacramento River.  Adult fish must also “escape” the fishery and return to Battle Creek in sufficient numbers to provide the hatchery with enough broodstock to perpetuate the cycle/program. While remaining committed to fulfilling the station’s mitigation responsibility by meeting fish production goals, the Service’s Coleman NFH is also committed to attempting to minimize the effects of the hatchery’s operation on natural fish populations. 

 

 


 

Contact Info: Brett Galyean, 530-365-8622, brett_galyean@fws.gov