[env-trinity] SF Chron Editorial 3 16 09
bwl3 at comcast.net
Mon Mar 16 09:40:28 PDT 2009
Where are the salmon solutions?
Monday, March 16, 2009
First it was a one-year ban, and now it's likely to be a second year with
virtually no salmon fishing in California's ocean waters. This losing streak
may continue if a predicted bare minimum of returning fish don't swim up the
Sacramento River this fall.
The affected interest groups - commercial fishermen, sports and
environmental groups, plus government agencies - are showing remarkable
patience and discipline in going along with a costly, job-killing timeout.
It's a united front built on the hope that once-plentiful stocks will
But other than keeping fish hooks out of the water, where are the solutions
to this crisis? This week there may be answers when a federal study is
released on the decline.
So far, the explanations have ranged across a spread of human intrusions:
pesticide runoff, water diversions and bankside development. There's another
culprit that's drawn special attention: changing ocean currents that have
carried off the food that sustain young fish to maturity.
But nature's hand gives Sacramento an easy pass. For years the state Fish
and Game Department has been starved of wardens, who monitor illegal water
diversions and poaching. By one count there are 200 to cover the entire
state, a figure so small it invites law-breaking.
Also, the department staff oversees building plans and timber cuts in river
corridors. With fewer hands, this work can't be done carefully.
Salmon may live a hazardous life at sea where forage is scarce, but none of
the young fish will ever get there if salmon-rearing conditions in the
Sacramento and scores of other rivers and creeks aren't protected.
This neglect has lasted for years, and it didn't begin with this year's
monumental budget battle. But it can't be allowed to continue for the health
of either the salmon or the California Department of Fish and Game. A stable
funding source must be found.
A state Assembly hearing last week in Sacramento heard these arguments from
legal and environmental voices. There are plenty of laws, policy studies and
scientific advice on easing the salmon crisis, these experts said. What's
needed is resolve and money, much of it directed to the state's wildlife
agencies, to produce results.
Unless this commitment is found, an iconic fish - and the human industry
built around it - could slowly die out. California can't allow its native
salmon to be a memory.
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
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