Salmon are growing in the rice paddies of the Yolo bypass floodplain.
It's part of a rare partnership between UC Davis researchers, the CA Department of Water Resources, National Marine Fisheries, non-profits and a private land owner. And if that partnership isn’t impressive on its own, consider the fact that there are NO opponents to this scheme. Anyone who’s lived in California for some time knows that fish tend to get pitted against farmers and flood protection, but in this case – they all seem to be running in harmony.
Here’s how it works: the rice paddies are harvested, and then re-flooded. Crews at the Yolo bypass have then built “pens” over the rice stubs, complete with electronic monitors that read the motion of the tagged fish inside. Thousands of those one-inch salmon are then released in the pens, where scientists say they have plenty to eat, causing them to grow large- quickly.
They’ve even dubbed the salmon ‘floodplain fatties.’
This is because the area used to be a giant river floodplain before the levees were put in to control flooding. The river would wash tiny fish into the ponds where they’d grow strong before making their way back to the river on their path to the ocean again.
The inch-long fish will be big enough to be released into the river on their way to the ocean starting in April. In the picture below, National Marine Fisheries workers insert electronic tags into the noses of the tiny baby salmon. This is how they'll track the fish as they travel around the paddies, and out into the ocean.
Researchers believe this could be the future of farming and fisheries, with farmers earning subsidies for using their paddies and fields in this way.