Monday, April 29, 2013
Managers Putting an End to Summer Time Smolt Barging on the Columbia
After 20 years of investment in passage improvements and increased spill, managers are finally putting an end to controversial mid-summer barging of salmon smolts in the Columbia. Barging had been seen as a means of increasing outmigration survival for ESA listed salmon stocks in the Upper Columbia and Snake, with smolts collected at McNary dam loaded onto barges and literally shipped down stream to the Pacific. However barging came with its own set of problems, subjecting juvenile fish to the unnatural stress of confinement in high densities, and reducing the ability of returning fish to successfully home to their natal rivers. Indeed, some studies have suggested that barging increased the likelihood of straying more than 10-fold. So this year citing improvements in outmigration success through the dams resulting from passage improvements and increased spill, managers will be discontinuing the program. While it is a small step towards a more natural Columbia system lets hope its a sign of bigger changes to come.
More in the Columbia Basin Bulletin: