[env-trinity] Eureka Times Standard April 27

Byron bwl3 at comcast.net
Thu Apr 28 12:05:21 PDT 2005


Schwarzenegger asked to declare salmon disaster

Eureka Times-Standard - 4/27/05

By John Driscoll, staff writer


California salmon fishermen are asking Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for a
disaster declaration after this year's salmon season has been all but


Eureka commercial fisherman Dave Bitts asked the Humboldt County Board of
Supervisors Tuesday to take the first step, asking Schwarzenegger for the
declaration. That could make fishermen and fishing businesses eligible for
federal disaster relief. 


The commercial season opens in the Monterey Bay area on May 1, but there's
no guarantee the fish will be there. The most local season doesn't begin
until September, pushing Humboldt and Del Norte county fishermen to motor
south for days to get a crack at the fish. 


"The expense of going down there to find out if there's fish is so great,"
Bitts said, "a lot of us won't go." 


He estimated it would take him 40 hours to reach the area where salmon
season opens in May. 


It's the most restrictive season since 1992, but it's not because there
aren't any salmon. It's because projected runs on the Klamath are so poor,
regulators can't allow them to be caught as ocean fishermen plunder
bountiful Sacramento River stocks that mix with Klamath fish. 


Fishermen point to two fish kills on the Klamath in 2002 as devastating to
the fishery. The first occurred in spring of that year, killing perhaps
200,000 young salmon. The next happened in the fall, when up to 68,000 adult
salmon died in the river. 


Analyses of the later event found low flows and warm water at the heart of
the fish kill. 


But while Bitts can travel to catch salmon, he said it's even more difficult
if your business is tied to a piece of property. Restaurants, hotels and
guide services for sport fishermen are hard hit when seasons are shortened
and quotas are cut. 


"Those businesses will likely suffer the consequences," agreed Jimmy Smith,
1st District supervisor. 


The season for ocean sport fishing starts late -- May 21 -- and includes a
lengthy break that cuts out most of July and part of early August. And river
fishermen got clobbered, with only 1,200 fish allowed on the Klamath and
Trinity rivers. 


Tribal fishermen, who had been enjoying the relative abundance of recent
years, will only be allowed to catch two-thirds of the salmon they say they
need to meet the minimum for subsistence. 


Complicating the matter is the fact that California commercial fishermen
caught three times their target amount last year, cutting into the number of
spawning adults that reached the river. Bitts said that was an anomaly not
predicted by regulators when they drafted the season's rules. Oregon
fishermen also caught over their limit. 


Last year's run was 88,777 fish, the lowest since 1978, and regulators this
year were forced to cut fishing seasons to make sure there were enough
spawners to perpetuate runs into the future. 


Bitts said the number of fish caught last year doesn't change fishermen's
situation this year. 


The board voted to send the letter to Schwarzenegger, as well as to state
and federal lawmakers, tribes and other Northern California counties.



Byron Leydecker, 

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

Consultant, California Trout, Inc.

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 ph

415 383 9562 fx

bwl3 at comcast.net

bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org (secondary)





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