[env-trinity] Oakland Tribune June 21 2009 SalmonAid Festival
bwl3 at comcast.net
Mon Jun 22 12:21:30 PDT 2009
SalmonAid organizes to fight threat of extinction
By Sean Maher
The plight of declining salmon populations and the commercial fishers they
support up and down the West Coast drew hundreds of people to Jack London
Square on Saturday and Sunday for the second annual SalmonAid Festival,
The festival featured food, music and a message of conservation. Some salmon
populations around the Central Valley are down 90 percent over the past
eight years, SalmonAid Foundation President Jonathan Rosenfield said.
The issues facing wild salmon throughout California and as far north as
Alaska involve many local interests represented by more than 2,000 small
nonprofit organizations. The foundation first put together the event last
year to unite their voices and help consumers, politicians and the media
understand the enormity of the issue, Rosenfield said.
"One of the major issues we're asking the state and federal governments to
tackle is water management in the state of California," Rosenfield said. "We
have huge amounts of water being diverted from the greater Bay Area into the
Central Valley for big agricultural corporations to grow crops out there
that don't make sense.
"For example, you're seeing a lot of water used to grow grapes, which need a
constant water supply to grow," he said. "We don't need to be growing grapes
in the desert during a drought."
Salmon don't need a lot of tender care to survive, Rosenfield said - they
are "a hearty, tenacious, adaptable
species." They just need access to their spawning grounds and relatively
clean water in the rivers they travel to get there. But as rivers dry up or
are blocked by dams, or are even pushed into reversed flows by powerful
pumps, that access gets cut off, and generations fail to reproduce.
"It's hard to predict extinctions to some degree, or sometimes to know if
it's not already too late to stop them from happening," Rosenfield said.
"But as a Ph.D. conservation biologist, I think that unless we seriously
turn things around in the next four or five years, we'll begin to see
extinctions occur on a grand scale, across an entire family of species.
We're witnessing an ecosystem in collapse."
Meanwhile, the rise in farmed salmon has begun to threaten natural food
supplies and an industry and tradition of outdoor, open-seas fishing, said
restaurant owner Kenny Belov of the nonprofit Fish or Cut Bait.
The nonprofit began with four partner restaurants last year and has expanded
to 26, including Baja Taqueria in Piedmont. All the eateries have committed
to buying only wild salmon, he said.
"Salmon are carnivorous fish, so to feed them in farms, we're going out into
the ocean and pulling out millions of anchovies, herring and smelt to feed
the salmon. These are fish we could be using to feed the world - they're
very healthy for you," Belov said. "But instead we're using them to feed
farmed salmon, which either escape or end up on people's plates full of
chemicals and hormones that aren't healthy."
Wild salmon is much more expensive than farmed salmon, and Belov conceded
that may make choosing wild salmon a harder choice for restaurants and
consumers in a troubled economy.
As a partial solution he suggested buying other locally caught wild fish as
they come in season, such as halibut and albacore tuna. A full list of
sustainable fish and the calendar for their seasons is available online at
www.focb.org. The SalmonAid Foundation's Web site is www.salmonaid.org
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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