Automated trailers cut fish marking time considerably

Published: Jul. 28, 2017 at 6:20 PM MDT
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Idaho Fish and Game has trailers at Niagara Springs hatchery in Wendell clipping steelhead trout.

They travel and stay for about a week to ten days depending on the size of the hatchery.

"We travel to those facilities, set up, clip and tag those fish and then go on to the next one," said Michael Firedrich, a supervisor on the job.

Clint Rody is an operator and explained the process.

"The fish are pumped in by a fish pump," he said

The fish are then sorted by size.

"The sorter is where every single fish is measured down to the nearest tenth of a millimeter," Rody said.

Based on that measurement they're sent to the proper machine to have their adipose fin clipped.

"It takes a before and after picture of every adipose fin and then it will pass or fail all of the fish," he said.

If the fish pass, off to the raceways they go, if they fail, they end up in a reject bucket, where they're manually clipped.

Automating the process makes clipping the 1.9 million fish at this hatchery much faster.

"A trailer will mark anywhere from 50 to 70 thousand fish per shift and we run two shifts per day," Rody said.

It may look scary but it's actually gentler on the fish, which means more fish survive

"The mortality rate while running these automated trailers is less than 1 percent," Rody said.

The best part? You can come see for yourself.

"It's an impressive process, we encourage people to come check it out," Firedrich said.