May 21st marked the second annual World Fish Migration Day. The day reminds us that finding a balance between the needs of people and migrating fish is critical. Healthy rivers support healthy fish populations as well as agriculture, wildlife and people. Our Southern California Conservation Program Manager, Candice Meneghin, explains why migrating fish deserve recognition in the opinion column of the Ventura County Star.
Pollution and overfishing have played a role in the decline, but research shows the No. 1 reason these native fish are struggling is their inability to access the upper reaches of the watershed. Migrating, or anadromous, fish like salmon and steelhead have an instinct to lay and fertilize eggs in the same streams where their predecessors spawned. When they can’t access these streams and creeks, reproduction plummets.
Improving fish passage increases long-term survival prospects. Salmon and steelhead have soared on the Elwha River in Washington state since the Elwha Dam was removed several years ago. While dam removal may not be possible everywhere, improving fish passage over dams and diversions can go a long way in helping populations to recover.
Click to read the full column and learn what Candice, CalTrout, and the Santa Clara River Steelhead Coalition are doing to promote fish passage.