Pilot Salmon Project Showing Promising Survival Rates

By Paul Buttner

There’s good news to report on the Rice Commission’s pilot salmon project with UC Davis and California Trout. This winter, researchers raised salmon at River Garden Farms in Knights Landing. When the juvenile salmon reached the needed size they were fitted with transmitters before their release. This tagging allows scientists to follow their migration to the ocean.

scientists tagging salmon

Early provisional data from real time receivers reporting to the CalFishTrack system are showing great promise for the survival of our first rice field-reared salmon.  As of today, 4.5 percent of our salmon have made it to Benicia.  This is the last real-time receiver that hears the pings from our fish as they sprint toward the Golden Gate.

Comparatively, 4.5 percent is high and has exceeded our reasonable expectations.  In a water-stressed year like this, highly variable survival rates of up to 3 percent are a reasonable expectation.  Our current results are more than a full percentage point above that range, and fish are continuing to be counted.

These are very exciting provisional results that certainly inform our efforts to better understand the potential role rice fields may hold to help salmon populations thrive.

A special shout goes out to our major sponsors—USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and Syngenta–along with many other supporters recognized on our sponsorship page. This work would not be possible without their contributions.

Paul Buttner is Manager of Environmental Affairs for the California Rice Commission.


Paul Buttner