[env-trinity] NY Times Editorial 4 10 09

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Sat Apr 11 06:40:28 PDT 2009


Editorial

Dr. Lubchenco and the Salmon 

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amp=foxsearch2009_emailtools_1011072c_nyt5&ad=500DOS_120x60_c&goto=http://ww
w.foxsearchlight.com/500daysofsummer> April 10, 2009 

Jane Lubchenco, the new leader of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, will have more to say than anyone else in Washington about
the health of fish species in America's coastal waters. A career marine
ecologist, she is widely regarded as tough, smart, respectful of science and
deeply committed to the survival and growth of America's fisheries.

 
<http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/11/opinion/11sat3.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&ref=tod
ayspaper&adxnnlx=1239457105-SVxnrJnHE4BoP+wQVGA6DQ#secondParagraph> Skip to
next paragraph She will need all of those qualities and more when she
confronts what could be her first major test - possibly the most vexing of
her tenure - devising a workable and broadly acceptable solution to the
grave threats facing the salmon runs of the Pacific Northwest.

In a matter of weeks, a federal judge in Seattle will rule on the adequacy
of the Bush administration's last recovery plan for a dozen or so endangered
or threatened salmon runs in the Columbia-Snake River Basin. 

Judge James Redden has already rejected two earlier plans. He tossed out a
Clinton plan because he found its prescriptions too vague and predictions
about the recovery rate for salmon species too speculative. He then tossed
out a Bush plan because it did too little to increase water flows over the
dams to help move young salmon downstream to the ocean. It was also illegal:
The Endangered Species Act requires the recovery of a species, whereas the
Bush plan promised little more than allowing the fish to go extinct at a
slower rate. 

This latest plan is an improvement, but it asks only that the fish be
"trending toward recovery" - which could mean almost anything, and certainly
does not point toward full recovery. It is opposed by environmental groups
and the state of Oregon, from which Dr. Lubchenco hails. It also is unlikely
to pass muster with the judge. That would set the stage for intervention by
the Obama administration and, one hopes, a much better recovery plan. As
part of that plan, we urge the administration to consider removing the four
dams on the Lower Snake River, which many scientists see as critical to the
species' recovery. The Clinton plan held open that possibility; the Bush
plan did not. 

Encouragingly, Dr. Lubchenco has already shown a capacity to confront tough
problems. Last week, she asked the hidebound and suspicious fishermen of New
England to entertain a radical shift in the way they manage their fisheries.
Instead of the current race to catch the last fish, Dr. Lubchenco is calling
on them instead to submit to an ownership system known as "catch shares"
under which they would be given a fixed share of the fishery and, with it, a
strong financial interest in having the fishery survive and grow.

The idea has worked well in several countries, like Australia. It also
captured the attention of Congress and the Bush administration. Getting New
England's traditionalists to accept a new idea will not be easy, but it is
necessary. New England's fisheries suffer from overfishing, the Pacific
Northwest's from habitat loss. What both places suffer from is a failure to
act. 

 

 

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)

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