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Salmon cannon could restore the population in the Upper Columbia

A so-called salmon cannon could restore salmon populations in parts of the upper Columbia river that have not seen the fish in 90 years.

The salmon cannon is actually a fish-propelling system made by a Seattle company called Whooshh Innovations, which uses a series of tubes and computers to gently detour the salmon around dams, so they can travel upstream to reproduce. Whooshh is working with the Colville Tribe to see if its fish-moving tubes can restore salmon runs above the Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee dams, reports The Spokesman Review.

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“In truth, the fish aren’t shot anywhere. The fish actually swim in on their own, and they are then sorted into a tube that’s misted inside so it’s very slick and air pressure gently movies them up and over the dam,” Michael Messina of Whooshh told KIRO Radio. “Each female is carrying 3,000 to 5,000 eggs, and that’s really important versus going up a ladder or not being able to go up at all. In terms of fisheries restorations this is really important.”

Along with salmon moving, the system can redirect predatory and invasive species to other parts of a river and away from the endangered fish.

“This is where all the computers and everything come in. There’s a lot of scanning of imagery taking place that makes a quick decision, and then they are routed up in the proper lane or if they are a fish that’s not supposed to go up they can be routed back out,” Messina said.

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The Army Corp of Engineers is set to make a decision soon on whether to install the fish cannons below the Chief Joseph dam and possibly Grand Coulee.

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