Report: California Salmon May be Trucked to the Sea

By Susan Jones | March 11, 2014 | 9:09 AM EDT

(AP File Photo)

( - Because of the drought, millions of young California salmon may migrate to the ocean in tanker trucks, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Normally, starting in April, the hatchery-raised salmon would swim downstream in the Sacramento River, but wildlife officials say that won't happen if the river is too shallow and warm.

“The conditions may be so poor as to produce unacceptable levels of mortality for the out-migrating juveniles,” the newspaper quoted Bob Clarke, fisheries program supervisor at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as saying

According to the newspaper, hauling the salmon in tanker trucks would be a "massive operation," involving a three-hour drive from Red Bluff to San Pablo Bay near Vallejo. Once they arrive, the young salmon would be put in pens to adjust to the new salinity and temperature conditions.

Fishery experts say it's best to release young fish into rivers so they are better able to return "home" for spawning three to four years later.

But the fishing industry has been pressing for the trucking  plan, the Bee reported, believing that it would mean a much better salmon fishing season in 2016, when the fish reach adulthood. Salmon fishing is a multi-billion-dollar industry in California.

This year’s salmon trucking plan is similar to one carried out in the drought of 1991-92, the Bee reported.

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, up to 18.4 million Sacramento fall-run Chinook smolts will be evaluated for potential trucking during April, May and June 2014.