Hatchery releases fish early

By Ashleigh Bartlett
Kern Valley Sun

Photo by Ashleigh Bartlett / Kern Valley Sun
A sign on the hatchery’s fence states that maintenance is being done after evacuating all fish.

Tony Holland, manager of Kern River Hatchery, sounded disappointed when it came to the 2,000 pounds of fish released at the KR4 Bridge in Kernville and Section 5 at Headquarters Campground in anticipation of Southern California Edison’s (SCE) Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS).

Holland explained that community members are certainly disappointed, as there’s no longer anything to see.

Currently, a sign on the hatchery’s fence states, “Due to potential outages, all fish have been evacuated from Kern River Hatchery. We are taking the opportunity to do some maintenance, and because of this the facility is closed to the public. Thank You for The Understanding.”

Although there won’t be any fish until the PSPS notices from SCE stop, Holland mentioned the fish released were from San Joaquin and were on their way out in about a month. Rather than releasing over the course of a few weeks, the executive decision was made that a mass release was the most proactive approach.

Prolonged power outages to their particular siphoning power system would have inevitably less flow and severely reduced oxygen, but in about a day, Holland estimates, without power, the lack of oxygen and stress on the fish could potentiate a massacre.

Holland says it’s better to act, then react; taking preventative measures may have saved thousands of fish.