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Fish Disaster in Sacramento Leads to Rescue Plan

US - An recent incident that resulted in the death of tens of thousands of fish in California has led to an assembly bill which establishes a rescue plan for stranded fish

In Thanksgiving week of 2007, avid duck hunters Bob McDaris, owner of Cliff’s Marina in Freeport, and John Soto, a Delta hay farmer, decided to “scout” for ducks on the California Delta’s Prospect Island, where the Bureau of Reclamation was repairing a levee, writes Dan Bacher, an editor at Fish Sniffer magazine. Instead of ducks, a horrific sight greeted the two shocked sportsmen—thousands of fish, including many large adult striped bass, were stranded and dying in the draining waters of the flooded island.

According to an article in the NewsReview, McDaris immediately planned a fish rescue and lined up a long list of volunteers. Hundreds of fishermen anxiously waited to aid in rescue efforts but were forced to wait nearly two weeks until the state could resolve liability concerns, permit requests and other bureaucratic delays.

After tens of thousands more fish died, the volunteers were finally able to conduct a fish rescue in early December. The volunteers rescued 1,831 striped bass, as well as tens of thousands of Sacramento blackfish, Sacramento splittail, sunfish, threadfin shad, black bass and other species in an enormously successful effort.

To prevent similar fish-kill fiascos, Davis Assemblywoman Lois Wolk introduced Assembly Bill 1806, the Fish Rescue Plans bill, in the Legislature this February. The original version of the bill provided procedures for fish-rescue plans, along with provisions for full mitigation for damages caused to Delta fisheries by the operation of the state and federal water projects.