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American River and the Nimbus Fish Hatchery

The salmon is famous for its bright colors and jumping more than 20 steps; moreover, it is on the upmost level of the Nimbus Fish Hatchery ladder due to its migration that takes place annually. Families enjoy the experience in the month of November where they visit the hatchery to witness the event; all the same, the migration is very essential to the survival of the salmon and steelhead in the lower part of the American River.

The Nimbus Fish Hatchery has been providing mitigation for the loss of natural fish since 1998; furthermore, it has been successful through forming alliances with the US fish and Wildlife Service, the California department of Fish and Game, and the US Bureau of Reclamation. In the case of the Salmon, they are organized and spawned once they make their way up the ladder with an average salmon female having more than five thousand eggs. Generally, the eggs are housed in a building, and the fish are looked after until they are four to six to six inches long after which they are released in the Sacramento River.

American River and the Nimbus Fish Hatchery

At the beginning of the year, the news about California’s Chinook salmon sounded more than just good with Federal fisheries biologists predicting big numbers of Sacramento River fall run Chinook (the state’s biggest, most commercially important salmon fishery and the biggest population of the river’s fall-run fish in memory). The California salmon council predicted a harvest of 3 million pounds which is three times of last years, and was meant to signify the Great Salmon Crash comeback where they were forced to shut down the whole program in 2008-2009 due to a sudden collapse.

Salmon fishermen and, the sellers of gear and supplies who were gravelly affected by the collapse were looking forward to a prosperous season and year of 2013. Moreover, fans and lovers of the salmon fish were promised by the head of the Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA) that they would have the best food and a load of fun come November.

However, this was just the tip of the iceberg with most of these people overlooking the negative side, or rather the limitation that are yet to be addressed. For instance, not I alone that am really sure of the results of the year’s season but the three million catch only seems impressive if compared to the recent years where things were disastrous. If compared to the years before the collapse, the forecast is three times lower; additionally, statistics form the National Marine Fisheries Service show that the catch per season has been slowly decreasing since the 50s with the pace increasing in the 80s.

Reflectively, if you look at the population crash in 2008, the fishing communities and scientists were not aware and did not expect such a thing to happen, and hence they were not prepared in any way. Personally, I would like to know the cause of the collapse, and am pretty sure they large numbers of people that would support me on this notion. There has been news about scientists studying factors from water pollution and a big bridge project that may have facilitated the collapse, where the noise from construction is suspected to have caused harm to the young salmons that were in the course of migration.

All the same, there has been no single factor that has been established to be a cause of the collapse; I have read articles where some scientists ‘think’ that chances are that it might have been caused by poor ocean feeding conditions or water diversions from the delta played role. Altogether, this still does not answer our question, and if truly this was the cause is there anything been done about it? I think the answers are hidden in plain sight all we need to do is add a little bit more effort.

Significantly, from history the salmon have been returning every year with millions of them being seen on the Bay, the Delta, the rivers and streams in the Central Valley and places like Sacramento were known to be crowded with them. If compared with today, something has seriously changed, and the question on our minds is what?

Many people think the answer to my question is “Everything”, but I disagree to agree. Yes, particularly everything has changed from the Gold Rush that brought fabulous wealth and produced inconceivable destruction to the environment (salmon streams) to the dams, cities, farms, and industries that have also had significant impact. According, to my perspective, I argue that we are the ones who changed hence making everything else change.

For instance, most of our efforts to preserve commercial Chinook salmon population might be doing more of hurting than the helping itself e.g. Sacramento’s river population collapse happened despite the efforts to use hatcheries to replace spawning streams destroyed by dams, logging, and development- ever come to think that the process itself might have been the cause of the collapse?

The efforts to improve the nature to an extent of even tracking the baby hatchery fish downriver could be impacting negatively much more than expected and instead of building we might demolishing what we already have. Biologists are of the idea that, the cause of the Sacramento collapse might have been a combo of habitat loss and hatchery production focusing on these as the main issues; but I think this should be the least of their worries since the surviving hatchery lacks the genetic variety of wild fish making it more vulnerable to changes in the conditions of the ocean and finally making it more prone to such collapses.

In conclusion, there is still hope for California’s salmon with the government and resource managers having made the initiative of restoring both water and habitat for Chinook salmon over the years. Conversely, I think that the idea of pumping from the Delta should be limited and should only take place at certain parts of the year to enhance protection of the salmon and other species that are in danger is a good one. The environmental lawsuit that prompted this action plus a few others should create a platform for all the other factors that require to be enforced for the sake of the salmon and California’s future. However, most people are against such actions since due to the cost but prevention is always better than cure; moreover, if such laws are enforced the salmon will not only survive but also thrive and only “US” can make this happen.

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