'Every single fish needs to have this clipped'

'Every single fish needs to have this clipped' »Play Video
A 6th Grade student volunteer clips a hatchling at the Morgan Creek Fish Hatchery Friday, May 17.

COOS BAY, Ore. -- To keep the Pacific Northwest's salmon populations thriving, coastal Oregon fish hatcheries raise and release millions of fish each year. 

The hatcheries mark each fish they raise by clipping the adipose fins off of the hatchlings.

"We have to 100 percent mark our fish, meaning that every single fish needs to have this clipped, their adipose fin removed," said Helena Verduyn, an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife district aid.

Biologists believe the adipose fin was rendered useless through evolutionary changes, officials said. The state requires hatcheries to clip the fin to help differentiate wild salmon from those bred in captivity.

This year the Morgan Creek hatchery is adding an auto-fish trailer to the team of volunteers working to clip and release their 2014 crop of salmon.

The automated system can clip more than 80,000 fish a day. Sensors on the machine make sure the job gets done.

The hatchery is also getting help from local students like Archal Devi, a 6th grader at Millicoma Int. School.

"The water was cold at first and then I got used to it. The fishy were slimy and I got used to it too," said Devi.

"These kids are in 6th grade now," said Verduyn, "By the time they're freshman in high school the fish will be up in Alaska and then on their way back."