For the 2nd straight year, dry conditions are stoking fears of another devastating wildfire season. The lack of snow and rain is also threatening the survival of the salmon. For nearly a decade, Captain Sarah Bates has been reeling in salmon off the California coast. Each time she is out in the water, this what she looks forwards to do.
“Catching fish never gets old, no matter how many times you’ve done it. Even when you’re catching a hundred fish a day or more, catching the next fish is still fun everytime,” Bates said.
For California recreational and commercial salmon fishing, more than $900 million annually are generated. The fishing industry is feeling stress because most of the state is feeling drought. “Nobody can survive an entire season that looks the way this one is looking. I mean, we are looking at an over 50% reduction of our traditional commercial fishing season,” Bates said.
On record, the state experienced one of the driest years; waterways are now hotbeds of dirt and dust that would generally carry young salmon out to sea. In April, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a drought emergency from a cracked lake bed.
To survive cold, running water is need by Chinook salmon. Salmons hatch in rivers then migrates to the sea to mature. After a couple of years to reproduce or spawn, they swim back to where life began. Will likely die fish born in the wild, as per studies this year. That is the reason hatcheries are becoming active. To save the species, a massive operation has been launched by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, including picking up 700,000 juvenile salmon by a tube and put into one of seven tankers. On a ride inside 146 trucks, the fish are hatching, traveling more than 100 miles to the Pacific. Into the San Francisco Bay, more than 17 million salmon will be released.
John McManus heads up an association of fishermen who advocate for salmon and ecosystem protections. According to him, efforts being made to move salmon bring a glimmer of hope.