California trucks young salmon to sea in move to help species

California officials on Tuesday trucked their final load of juvenile salmon from hatcheries to San Francisco Bay, marking the end of an unprecedented effort to help a dwindling species.

In total, the Department of Fish and Game hauled 20.2 million fall-run chinook salmon smolts from three hatcheries on the American, Feather and Mokelumne rivers. The fish were deposited into net pens on shore, then towed by barge out into San Pablo Bay for release.

The state has trucked salmon for years, but never on this scale, said spokesman Harry Morse, nor has anyone else.

"I called both Washington and Oregon and asked them if anybody had transported a number this massive, and both those agencies said no," Morse said.

Fish and Game decided to truck nearly all its hatchery chinook this year, instead of turning them loose to fend for themselves, to ensure that the fish survive to spawn.

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