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COLEMAN NFH: Smolt Release Aims to Increase Ocean Salmon Stocks
California-Nevada Offices , May 20, 2010
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FFC personnel towing a net pen loaded with fall Chinook salmon into San Pablo Bay (photo: Marc Provencher, USFWS) 
FFC personnel towing a net pen loaded with fall Chinook salmon into San Pablo Bay (photo: Marc Provencher, USFWS)  - Photo Credit: n/a
Fall Chinook salmon smolts are loaded into a CDFG fish-hauling truck at Coleman NFH (photo: Marc Provencher, USFWS) 
Fall Chinook salmon smolts are loaded into a CDFG fish-hauling truck at Coleman NFH (photo: Marc Provencher, USFWS)  - Photo Credit: n/a

by Marc Provencher, Coleman NFH
For the third consecutive year, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) staff at Coleman National Fish Hatchery (NFH) partnered with the Fishery Foundation of California, and California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) personnel from the Feather River State Hatchery to transport and release fall Chinook salmon smolts in San Pablo Bay.  Overall 1.3 million smolts were released over four days (May 17-20) at a location near Vallejo, California, with the intent of increasing Chinook salmon stocks in the Pacific Ocean for recreational and commercial fishing.  The release is in addition to the over 10 million fall Chinook smolts released into Battle Creek at Coleman NFH in April.

Four specialized fish hauling trucks, one from the FWS and three from CDFG, were used for the release operation.  The smolt releases to San Pablo Bay were timed to coincide with tides that encourage faster fish emigration.  In order to have the fish at the release sites on-time, hatchery staff started the process of crowding and loading fish as early as 2 am each release day.  Two high-intensity portable lighting units provided by the US Bureau of Reclamation allowed fish culture crews to safely operate forklifts, booms, fish-pumps, and other necessary equipment during the early morning hours.

Fish health was maintained during the 180 mile trip from Coleman NFH to the release locations through the use of water recirculation pumps, fresh-flow aerators, oxygen tanks, ice to maintain temperature, salt as a stress reducer, a fish-slime enhancer, and a foam-retardant.  Water quality parameters, fish health, and life support systems were evaluated several times while in transit to San Pablo Bay. 

At the release locations fish were loaded into net-pens provided by the Fishery Foundation of California (FFC) for an acclimation period.  The net-pens were then towed by small-craft into the bay where the fish were released.

Under the Constant Fractional Marking Program all hatchery-origin fall Chinook salmon in California are adipose fin-clipped and coded wire tagged (CWT) at the rate of 25%.  Fish being released off-site contain a unique CWT code, allowing fish biologists at the Red Bluff Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office and Coleman National Fish Hatchery to evaluate the smolt-to-adult return, contribution to ocean harvest, and stray rates of both on-site and off-site release groups.

Coleman National Fish Hatchery (NFH) was established in 1942 to mitigate for the loss of salmonid spawning habitat that ensued following the construction of Shasta and Keswick Dams on the Sacramento River.  The hatchery is operated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and funded by the Bureau of Reclamation.  Located in California‚Äôs Central Valley, Coleman NFH is situated on the north bank of Battle Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River.  The hatchery is open to the public seven days a week, from 7:30 a.m. to dusk.  For more information, or to schedule a tour please contact the hatchery at (530) 365-8622 or visit our website at http://www.fws.gov/coleman/

 


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



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