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Fishing and conservation groups urge officials to reject water grab
Dan Bacher
A coalition of fishing industry and conservation groups today issued a news release urging state and federal officials to reject an attempted water grab by wealthy San Joaquin Valley agribusiness interests that threatens Central Valley Chinook salmon with extinction. The groups include the Golden Gate Salmon Association, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, SBCSFA, Natural Resources Defense Council, Defenders of Wildlife, The Bay Institute, Earthjustice, Friends of the San Francisco Estuary, and American Rivers. The groups say the San Joaquin River Exchange contractors are asking state and federal officials to increase pumping in the Delta to maximum levels over the next few weeks, during the peak of the salmon migration through the Delta. “In a nutshell, the government is being asked to risk our valuable native salmon stocks and sacrifice thousands of sustainable fishing jobs and the economies of fishing communities all for a small group of wealthy water profiteers” said Zeke Grader, of the PCFFA which represents working fishing men and women. “That is unconscionable.” The latest attempt by agribusiness to increase water pumping out of the Delta during a big drought takes place as the Brown and Obama administrations are fast-tracking a twin tunnel plan that will make prospects for salmon survival even worse than they are now. The Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels will hasten the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as imperil the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers. The so-called "habitat restoration" proposed under the widely-opposed plan will take vast tracts of Delta farmland, some of the most fertile soil on the planet, out of agricultural production in order to continue irrigating mega-farms located on toxic, drainage-impaired land on the west side of the Joaquin Valley. The water destined for the proposed tunnels will also be used by the oil industry for steam injection and fracking operations to extract oil from Monterey Shale deposits in Kern County. Photo of spawning Chinook salmon courtesy of California Department of Fish and Wildlife The press release is below:

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