The MBSTP proposes to release 160,000 juvenile hatchery-origin Central Valley fall-run Chinook Salmon into Monterey Harbor in 2022, 2023 and 2024. All Project fish would be evaluated by a CDFW Fish Health pathologist and certified to be disease-free prior to leaving the hatchery. Fish will also be tagged with Coded-Wire Tags (CWT) and marked with an adipose fin-clip at a 100% rate for all years of the Project (2022-2024) to allow for evaluation of potential benefits and impacts of the Project. All smolts would be transported from MOK to Monterey Harbor in a single trip using 2-4 fish transport trucks. Trucks would be loaded, and fish transported according to MOK established standard operating procedures for transportation of salmon. Water in the trucks would be salted prior to adding fish at the hatchery.
MBSTP, in anticipation of fish delivery from MOK to the Monterey Harbor, has secured necessary equipment. MBSTP would release smolts from the trucks directly into Monterey Harbor, via a gravity-fed pipe (10 inches in diameter). MBSTP would provide both staffing and logistical support to facilitate release of fish at the Project location. This includes a ‘tender’ vessel provided and operated by MBSTP to assist in release of smolts from the height of the wharf to the water surface.
No active predator deterrent for marine mammals or seabirds is planned as part of the Project. Past predation events were attributed to net pen acclimation as well as the nearness of the release location to the largest numbers of sea lions in the harbor (Ben Harris, personal communication, December 9, 2019). The proposed location is on the opposite side of the harbor of these prior releases, and the elimination of net pen acclimation will prevent predators from adjusting to smolts as potential food sources. Past enhancement program operations in Monterey Bay have indicated that releases timed to coincide with a large outgoing tide have produced positive results by helping smolts avoid post-release predation and mortality. Dusk or night-time releases have also been proposed as a method for reducing post-release predation, particularly by seabirds. MBSTP will adapt the schedule and release timing with CDFW and CSTAC to work within these optimal tidal and timing windows.
The Project is contingent upon CDFW approval after completion of CEQA. Project results will be assessed using data acquired from CDFW landings, carcass surveys, and monitoring programs.