Most of the salmon caught in California come from hatcheries in the Sacramento Valley, yet it turns out not much is known about these fish even though they are bred by hand.
A new study released Tuesday says the state needs to do a lot more to improve its salmon and steelhead hatcheries, and recommends difficult steps that could upset a lot of anglers. The bottom line, according to the study, is that despite the millions in public funds spent on hatcheries, the state knows relatively little about how hatchery fish influence wild salmon or what happens to them during their life cycle.
The $2 million study, released by state and federal wildlife agencies, concludes nearly two years of work by a panel of 11 fishery experts. Their recommendations are similar to changes long ago adopted in Oregon and Washington that have strengthened fish populations in those states.
Among other things, the study found that the state lacks standard protocols to handle the 40 million salmon it produces each year at eight hatcheries.