[env-trinity] SF Chron 3 4 09

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Wed Mar 4 10:00:28 PST 2009


Fishermen brace for new ban on ocean salmon

 <mailto:pfimrite at sfchronicle.com> Peter Fimrite, Chronicle Staff Writer

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

 

							

(03-03) 17:05 PST SANTA ROSA -- The bad news about fishing was couched in
numbers and graphs, study results and scientific jargon, but there was no
mistaking the message: Californians won't be eating much local salmon this
year. 

 

 
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Water employee arrested in cat-abuse attempt 03.04.09 

That was the gist of a day-long meeting in Santa Rosa Tuesday at which state
Department of Fish and Game biologists told fishermen, conservationists and
others that surveys and studies show the state's salmon fishery in
near-complete ruin.

Biologists estimated only 66,000 adult salmon returned to the Sacramento
River to spawn last fall - only the second time in 16 years that the number
of fall-run chinook failed to meet the Pacific Fishery Management Council's
goal of 122,000 to 180,000 adult fish.

In 2007, a similar count was so dismal that federal regulators banned ocean
fishing in California and most of Oregon last spring and summer, the first
total closure in California history. Experts are predicting barely enough
spawning fish next fall to meet the 122,000 goal - and that's only if ocean
fishing is banned this year.

It is crushing news for a fishing industry that was in trouble even before
the nation went into recession.

Fort Bragg fisherman Bill Forkner argued Tuesday that salmon hatcheries were
supposed to ensure that fishing would continue in exchange for the dams that
state and federal governments put up on the Sacramento and San Joaquin river
systems. 

"Fishermen are ecologists. We want things right, and we don't want to catch
the last fish," said Forkner, 54. "But we also want a chance to make a
living at what we've done all our lives. They knew the wild fish wouldn't
survive when they put up the dams, but they promised us that we would have
something to fish."

Chinook that spawn in the fall, traditionally the largest salmon run of the
year, are the same ones that are fished out of the ocean during the spring
and summer.

The fabled fall run has been in steady decline since 2005, according to data
released Tuesday, despite the addition of hundreds of millions of
hatchery-raised chinook, including 32 million last year.

There are no reliable studies showing how many of the surviving fish in the
ocean and rivers are from hatcheries. But a study last year of fish caught
by sport fishermen found that 71 percent of them were raised in hatcheries.
Regardless of the influence of hatcheries, very few chinook of any kind are
surviving.

State and federal scientists believe that warmer ocean conditions have
reduced the food supply for the fish. Record exports of water from the
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta coincided with major declines in chinook,
a factor that environmentalists and fishing representatives believe is the
major culprit.

Studies are being done on stream flow, water oxygen levels, temperature,
gravel, toxic substances, food, predation and chemical contamination in an
attempt to isolate problems in the Sacramento River system.

The answers can't come soon enough for those whose livelihoods depend on it.

"It is taking them a real long time to figure out what the problems are,"
said Don Platt, a 49-year-old fisherman from Fort Bragg. "In the meantime,
we're not fishing and a whole lot of fishermen are going out of business."

The Pacific Fishery Management Council will discuss another possible salmon
fishing ban during its annual meeting that begins Sunday in Seattle. The
National Marine Fisheries Service is expected to make a final decision on
fishing quotas by May 1, when California's salmon fishing season normally
begins. 

 

 

Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land

415 519 4810 cell

 <mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net

 <mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org
(secondary)

 <http://fotr.org/> http://www.fotr.org 

 

 

 

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