SF Bay Area Indymedia indymedia
About Contact Subscribe Calendar Publish Print Donate

California | Central Valley | Environment & Forest Defense | Government & Elections

Fishing Groups Ask for Emergency Steps to Save Salmon
by Dan Bacher
Tuesday Jan 28th, 2014 9:32 AM
Four fishery conservation groups have asked state and federal fishery and water officials to convene an urgent meeting to save California Central Valley Chinook salmon runs from the drought.

“We have a potentially dire situation in which a large percentage of 2013 Central Valley salmon may be lost if no action is taken,” said Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. “Salmon have been suffering from a manmade drought for decades and this years’ lack of rainfall exacerbates the problem. We’re calling on the state and federal government to save this year’s salmon run, which can be done if we act now.”

“All four of the Central Valley Chinook runs are in immediate peril due to the drought and a large percentage of the 2013 production may be lost if no action is taken,” said Marc Gorelnik of the Coastside Fishing Club.

Poor water management of rivers and reservoirs by the Brown and Obama administrations has also exacerbated the impact of the drought.

Last summer, high water releases down the Sacramento, Feather and American rivers left Shasta, Oroville and Folsom reservoirs at dangerously low levels. Shasta is at 36 percent of capacity and 54 percent of average; Oroville, 36 percent of capacity and 54 percent of average; and Folsom, 7 percent of capacity and 34 percent of average.

Yet Pyramid Lake in Southern California is at 98 percent of capacity and 105 percent of average; and Castaic Reservoir, 86 percent of capacity and 105 percent of average.

The state and federal water agencies exported massive quantities of water to agribusiness interests and Southern California water agencies, endangering local water supplies and fish populations as the ecosystem continues to collapse.

Now that our salmon populations are in this crisis situation, it is crucial that the officials meet with key leaders from the recreational and commercial fishing community, along with non-government fishery scientists and other stakeholders, to map out a drought action plan.

Photo of Pyramid Lake by Gene Beley. While Folsom and other northern California reservoirs are at record low levels after a summer of massive diversions of water to corporate agribusiness, oil companies and Southern California water agencies, Pyramid Lake in Southern California is at 98 percent of capacity.

Below is the joint press release from the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Golden Gate Salmon Association, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and Coastside Fishing Club:

Catching and moving salmon out of deadly drought zone needed

San Francisco – The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Golden Gate Salmon Association, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and Coastside Fishing Club have asked state and federal fishery and water officials to convene an urgent meeting to save California Central Valley Chinook salmon runs from the drought.

The groups are asking the officials to meet with key leaders from the fishing community (commercial and recreational) along with non-government fishery scientists and other stakeholders, to map out a drought action plan.

“We have a potentially dire situation in which a large percentage of 2013 Central Valley salmon may be lost if no action is taken,” said CSPA Executive Director Bill Jennings. “Salmon have been suffering from a manmade drought for decades and this years’ lack of rainfall exacerbates the problem. We’re calling on the state and federal government to save this year’s salmon run, which can be done if we act now.”

“All four of the Central Valley Chinook runs are in immediate peril due to the drought and a large percentage of the 2013 production may be lost if no action is taken,” said Marc Gorelnik of the Coastside Fishing Club.

Drought has left rivers and reservoirs extremely low during this critical time for incubating fall run salmon eggs and out-migrating fry. Other wild juvenile salmon, including the listed winter and spring run Chinook, are still rearing in the upper portions of rivers waiting for unlikely winter and spring pulse flows to aid in their downstream migration to the sea.

“Juvenile salmon migrate from the rivers to the ocean from mid-January to May so the window of opportunity to act to save these fish is very short,” said charter boat captain and GGSA board chairman Roger Thomas. “This is an avoidable crisis we need to avert because we’ve got a lot of families that depend on salmon to pay the bills.” Thomas is also the president of the Golden Gate Fishermen’s Association, which represents passenger fishing boat owners and operators.

The groups are also asking state and federal fish, wildlife and water managers to consider trapping and moving wild and hatchery juvenile salmon to safety beyond the drought zone and to refrain from weakening already soft flow requirements needed to keep fish alive.

“Because of the drought, we may need to capture and transport wild and hatchery salmon juveniles to get them safely out of the rivers and into the lower delta or bay,” said John McManus, executive director of GGSA. “We’ve already lost a major portion of the salmon eggs laid in Central Valley rivers and streams in late 2013 because water flows were drastically cut which left the eggs high and dry.”

“The measures we propose are for critically dry conditions only, such as those we’re now suffering from,” said PCFFA executive director and Golden Gate Salmon Association vice chair Zeke Grader. “These proposals are not meant to substitute for flows and temperatures needed by salmon in less critical water years.”

Without the actions being requested, another devastating collapse in the California Salmon fishery such as the one that saw the first ever shutdown of ocean salmon fishing in 2008 and 2009 is likely.
______________________________________________
The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit benefit conservation and research organization established in 1983 for the purpose of conserving, restoring and enhancing the state’s water quality, wildlife and fishery resources and their aquatic ecosystems and associated riparian habitats. More information can be found at: http://www.calsport.org.

The Golden Gate Salmon Association (http://www.goldengatesalmonassociation.org) is a coalition of salmon advocates that includes commercial and recreational salmon fisherman, businesses, restaurants, an Indian tribe, environmentalists, elected officials, families and communities that rely on salmon. GGSA’s mission is to protect and restore California’s largest salmon producing habitat comprised of the Central Valley river’s that feed the Bay-Delta ecosystem and the communities that rely on salmon as a long-term, sustainable, commercial, recreational and cultural resource.

The Golden Gate Fishermen's Association (http://www.sfsportfishing.com/GGFA/) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing California's Fisheries and our natural resources. Our membership consists of passenger fishing boat owners/operators, fishing related businesses, marine recreational anglers, and other concerned citizens.

The Coastside Fishing Club (http://coastsidefishingclub.com/) is a community of recreational fishermen.
We are active, conservation minded volunteers sharing in the common goal of improving California’s fishery. Coastside works constructively with decision makers and government agencies to benefit the fishery resource and, consequently, the quality of the recreational experience. Coastside promotes community events such as kids' derbies and veterans' fishing days.

Contacts: Bill Jennings, CSPA, 209-464-5067
Michael Coats, GGSA, 707-935-6203
Marc Gorelnik, Coastside, 510-333-6600
Zeke Grader, PCFFA, 415-561-5080, ex 224