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Eye in the Sky: ECORP Uses sUAS to Monitor a Fish Rescue Operation

In the summer of 2020, ECORP’s fisheries biologists conducted a fish rescue and relocation operation for the San Joaquin Area Flood Control Agency’s (SJAFCA) Smith Canal Gate Project. The purpose of this effort was to remove fish from the interior of an 80-by-80-foot cofferdam constructed to isolate the in-water work area in the mouth of Atherton Cove on the San Joaquin River in and near the city of Stockton. This effort was required by permits and authorizations issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

To fulfill these permit requirements, ECORP prepared a Fish Rescue and Relocation Plan for agency approval and implemented the plan by pulling large block nets to herd fish out of the work area prior to the installation of the final piles to seal off the cofferdam. Removing fish from a wetted cofferdam in a large water body with a deep layer of bottom sediments presented unique challenges and several passes with the block net, but surveillance of the cofferdam interior with SONAR detected no remaining fish following the fish rescue operation. ECORP’s licensed drone pilots documented various stages of the fish rescue and relocation using a small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS). A video link is provided below.

If you would like to discuss your project’s fish rescue needs, please contact Dave Thomas and Tom Scofield at (916) 782-9100, or Brian Zitt and Adam Schroeder at (714) 648-0630.  For UAS services, please contact Adam Schroeder at (714) 648-0630.

ECORP’s sUAS captured footage of fisheries biologist using a large seine net to corral and exclude fish from the work area within the cofferdam.

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