Spawning operations begin at a Fish Hatchery in Arcata. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) personnel at Mad River Hatchery began allowing wild origin steelhead and hatchery origin steelhead to enter the hatchery February 4, to start spawning operations. The hatchery action is based on an amended court-ordered stay, signed by Judge M.M. Chesney, allowing hatchery operations to proceed with conditions agreed to by CDFW and the plaintiff Environmental Protection Information Center.
The court action allows Mad River Hatchery to collect, trap and spawn wild origin steelhead for brood stock for one year. The court decision was made because the National Marine Fisheries Service felt progress was made on the development of a Hatchery Genetic Management Plan and the agreement made on the collection of natural origin steelhead trout in the coming year.
"Collection operations went very smoothly today," said Shad Overton, Mad River Hatchery Manager. "It is critical we include both wild and hatchery origin fish to ensure the best genetic diversity of eggs possible for future releases. Our goal is to release 150,000 yearlings next year."
Trapping, collection and egg take were delayed due to litigation. Spawning usually starts in January and continues through March. This window of time allows the hatchery to spawn returning fish throughout the run. This year's late start is not expected to affect overall spawning operations.