[env-trinity] Press Release - Fishermen Tell Salazar - Don't Make Salmon Scapegoat
bwl3 at comcast.net
Sat Jun 27 08:48:34 PDT 2009
From: Zeke Grader [mailto:zgrader at ifrfish.org]
Sent: Saturday, June 27, 2009 6:38 AM
Subject: Press Release - Fishermen Tell Salazar - Don't Make Salmon
For Immediate Release: Saturday, June 27, 2009
Contact: Dick Pool (925) 963-6350
Dr. Mark Rockwell (530) 559-5759
Captain Mike Hudson (510) 407-0046
Captain Roger Thomas (415) 760-9362
Zeke Grader (415) 606-5140
Fishermen to Interior Secretary: Don't Make Fish the Scapegoat
For Valley Unemployment and Water Woes
SAN FRANCISCO, June 27 - A coalition of commercial and recreational
fishermen and allied businesses are calling on Interior Secretary Ken
Salazar to let science and facts be his guide when he meets with growers and
water agencies on Sunday in Fresno.
The fishing groups warn that protections for fish in the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta and San Francisco Bay are critical for the livelihoods of
thousands of Californian's along the coast. Some agricultural leaders and
water contractors, along with a few members of Congress, have blamed the San
Joaquin Valley's high unemployment and economic woes on protections for fish
- including measures to make sure there is enough water for fish survival.
"We feel the pain of unemployed farm workers. Salmon fishermen have been out
of work for two years now because of the total closure of the fishery," said
Zeke Grader, Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of
Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA), which represents working men and women in
the West Coast commercial fishing fleet. "But don't make the fish or their
protections a scapegoat for the problems of the San Joaquin Valley."
Experts have pointed out that the San Joaquin Valley's unemployment rates
have historically been much higher than the rest of the State. A switch to
less labor-intensive crops has added to the problem while cutbacks in water
deliveries to growers are mainly due to the current drought, not protections
for fish, say fishing groups.
"We've had a long history of political meddling with fishery protections by
water interests that have left fish vulnerable and resulted in tremendous
losses to our fishing economy and the jobs it represents. We're sympathetic
with those in the Valley currently without jobs, but we've had tremendous
job losses in recreational fishing businesses and among commercial fishermen
over the years because no one was looking out for the water needs of the
fish," noted Dr. Mark Rockwell of the Northern California Federation of Fly
"This is a fish and people problem, not a fish versus people problem,"
In June the National Marine Fisheries Service put in place its
scientifically-peer reviewed biological opinion for state-federal water
operations in the Delta to protect endangered winter and spring-run chinook
salmon and sturgeon. That BiOp establishes fish protection measures
including some restrictions on the diversion of fresh water flows critical
for fish survival and essential for maintaining the Delta estuarine
The fishing groups point out that past efforts to put in place science-based
protections have been overridden by water politics including the killing of
the State Water Resources Control Board's October 1988 draft order for Delta
flows and, more recently, 2004 biological opinions for salmon and Delta
smelt that were found inadequate, when Bush Administration officials
overruled scientists in favor of state and federal water contractors.
"The issue here is not jobs versus fish, it is jobs versus jobs and food
versus food," emphasized Dick Pool, a fishing gear manufacturer and head of
Water 4 Fish. "Currently there are 23,000 commercial and recreational
people unemployed because California's salmon fishery is shut down. This
has taken$1.4 billion out of the State's economy."
The Central Valley historically has been the second-largest salmon producing
river system in the lower 48 states - second only to the Columbia. Its
salmon, include four runs of chinook, the most valuable of the five runs of
Pacific Salmon. Wild-caught salmon are considered among the top 10 foods
for nutritional value, along with various vegetables, fruits and nuts.
"Fish are our livelihood. Our coastal communities and people depend on
sustainable fisheries to support families and the infrastructure of
communities," according to Captain Roger Thomas, a charter fishing boat
skipper and president of the Golden Gate Fishermen's Association.
The fishing groups whose main emphasis has been with the protection of those
fish having commercial and recreational value, also warn that even the tiny
Delta Smelt, protected by a biological opinion issued by the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, has a beneficial role in the ecosystem.
"These small fish are our warning light about the health of the estuary.
They tell us whether the system is well or dying," explained Grader.
"Allowing their extinction would be as foolish as ripping warning lights out
of the cockpit of a jet airliner. In both instances it would be putting
people's lives in danger."
At the meeting in Fresno with Secretary Salazar on Sunday, fishing
representatives are offering to work with growers to find solutions to farm
water problems without sacrificing science-based fish protection. Fishing
groups have worked successfully with farmers in the Sacramento Valley. They
also plan to invite Secretary Salazar to affected fishing communities,
allowing him to see the full breadth of the problem.
"I want our farms to have all the water they need to grow their broccoli,
lettuce, bell peppers and other great veggies for us. We cannot have a good
salmon dinner without vegetables," said Captain Mike Hudson, a commercial
fisherman who regularly sells his catch at Farmer's Markets. "But we all
need to come to a solution that will allow our fish to thrive along with
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