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Ventura, Santa Barbara County Fisheries Impacted by Bacterial Infection At Some State Hatcheries

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Fresh water fishing isn’t going to be the same on the Central and South Coasts for the next few years, after a bacterial outbreak has hit three Southern California fish hatcheries.  More than three million fish are being euthanized in an effort to stop the spread of the disease.

State Department of Fish and Wildlife facilities across the state raise millions of rainbow trout annually for release into waterways.  About 40,000 were released in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties in 2019,  with many going into Lake Cachuma and Lake Casitas.

Jay Rowan is the Environmental Program Manager for the state’s fish hatcheries.  He says a bacterial outbreak has hit three facilities, in Victorville, Big Pine, and Independence

Rowan says the outbreak is significant.  They think birds may have brought the bacteria to the hatcheries.  He says they tried to see if they could save the three million plus fish using antibiotics, but it didn’t work

So, Rowan says they’ve been left with no choice but to euthanize the fish, and drain and clean the facilities to try to eliminate the bacteria.  He says they are trying to insure the bacterial infection doesn’t get into the fish population in the wild.

They are planning studies to see if the bacterial infection has ended up in the region’s waterways.

The state’s fish hatchery in Fillmore will be able to help with the fish shortage, but it’s one of the smaller facilities and can’t fill the huge gap.

Rowan says it could take two years for rainbow trout population on the Central and South Coasts to recover.

The bacteria isn’t an issue for humans if the fish are properly cooked.

The rainbow trout raised by the state are different than Southern California Coast Steelhead, which are endangered and protected.