A Summer Without Salmon.....
Some background and a good graph about our salmon situation. Zeke Grader is an attorney in San Francisco who represents the local fisherman, and a really good guy. When I first checked him and his group out, I was stunned to see an industrial organization on the forefront of conservation, ecologically minded management and some interesting highly ethical actions.....like stopping the Dungeness crab season until the oil from the Cosco Busan spill had cleared. (Of course, it did not stop scumbags like Gino Panisi of Royal Seafoods at Monterey's Wharf II from buying from scab boats.....but that is another story.)
Locally, we have been anxiously watching the steelhead run in the Carmel River. Two more local scumbags....Shithead Bob and Jake the Snake were almost caught redhanded by our new Fish and Game wardens last month. These creeps were on the River, just below the last dam....the finish line for the steelhead in their spawning run. They were catching hen steelhead, gutting them to remove their eggs and throwing the alive back in the water to die.....then using the eggs to catch other fish.
At the time, the wardens told me that 300 steelhead had been counted passing Carmel Valley Village and only 45 had made it to the last dam. Each fish is precious, and we at The Store put up a reward, as well as a bounty and a target on Shithead and Snake. We promise to eventually call Fish and Game when we catch them......assuming we don't use what is left of them for crayfish bait. ( By the way...we have two wardens to cover all of Big Sur and all of the Santa Lucia's and the Salinas Valley. Benign neglect on the part of our government....at best. This is an area where the public can really help.....don't let stuff slide! Drop a dime!)
Anyway, it turns out that the critters were taking their time moving upstream, and there has been actually more steelhead surviving the trip than perhaps is normal.
Not so in the Delta.....and I will remind everyone of Karl Rove's personal intervention on the Klamath in Oregon to kill millions of fish in exchange for helping out a few friendly oat farmers.
Here is the press release from Earthjustice and PCFFA, followed by the release from the National Marine Fisheries Service about today's unprecedented decision:
For Immediate Release: April 10, 2008 Contact: Todd True, Earthjustice, 206-343-7340 ex 30 Zeke Grader, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations 415-561-5080
Seattle, WA - West Coast fishery officials announced the shutdown of salmon fishing this year for all of California and most of Oregon. The decision is based on the failure of California Sacramento River fall run Chinook salmon, the run commercial and sport fishermen target. These fish did not return last summer and fall. The lack of income for salmon dependent communities could prove to be a severe economic blow.
"It's going to be devastating," said Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA). "We're going to be asking for federal assistance and looking for alternatives to keep our fishermen afloat for the next year or two until we get a chance to fix salmon problems."
Although today's news is tied primarily to Sacramento River salmon stocks, west coast salmon problems are becoming chronic and result in large a part from government mismanagement of the three big salmon-producing rivers: the Sacramento, Klamath, and Columbia. The crisis is coast wide, affecting fisheries and coastal communities from Washington to Oregon to California and even to Alaska.
The salmon news comes as we await new or revised federal management plans or court rulings on existing plans for massive dam, diversion or irrigation projects on all three major salmon rivers. Federal fishery experts are currently reviewing the affects on salmon of these federal projects and will issue new or revised "biological opinions" for the Klamath and Columbia projects later this spring.
On the Sacramento River, a federal and California plan to divert even more water from the delta south has been challenged in court because of the harm it will do to the protected runs of salmon in the Central Valley. A ruling is expected anytime on this case. All three rivers contain both protected, and non-protected, runs of salmon.
"These salmon are recoverable if we make smart choices and make them soon," said Earthjustice attorney Todd True. "The science tells us it's not hopeless, but it is increasingly urgent to pay attention and change the way we're managing these three rivers so all people can enjoy salmon again."
On the Sacramento, where the salmon collapse is the immediate cause of the fishery closure, water managers diverted and pumped an all time record high of 6.4 million acre feet of water from the delta in 2005, the same year juvenile salmon that would have returned as adults in 2007 were attempting to migrate through the delta and out to sea.
"What's happened is no surprise given the massive water diversions from the Sacramento San Francisco Bay delta and the failure to address toxic discharges into this estuary, an ecosystem critical to the survival of the salmon run that drives our west coast fishery," emphasized Grader. "It's obvious that we've got to go to work to both save fishermen and fix the delta to bring back our fishery."
During the first week of April a delegation of commercial salmon fishermen from California, Oregon, and Washington visited Washington DC where they asked for Congressional hearings to look into the root causes of the Pacific salmon crisis.
"Congressional hearings are needed to focus on measures we need to fix our rivers and the delta so that we can again have fishermen on he water and locally caught king salmon in our markets," said Grader of PCFFA.