OIRASE, Japan — Hundreds of Misawa Air Base residents joined the Japanese community in Oirase Town early Saturday morning to help release about 300,000 salmon into the Oirase River.
The 13th Annual Salmon Release, held about two miles upstream from the Pacific Ocean, helps maintain the northern Japan salmon population.
Ayako Fukikoshi, an administrative specialist with the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron’s environmental flight, told Stars and Stripes the release is one of the popular Earth Day events the base participates in each year, although it’s a month before the actual Earth Day. But the salmon fingerlings were ready to enter wild waters.
Children crowded excitedly around the fish tank as the fingerlings were unloaded Saturday. Filling buckets with the fish, they gathered on a set of stone stairs and began pouring the tiny fish into the river.
Organizers said about four percent of those released will live to spawn up the river in four years.
Following the release, participants gathered at the Oirase Community Center for a potluck luncheon.