[env-trinity] Marin Independent Journal 1 28 10

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Fri Jan 29 10:06:24 PST 2010

Big rains stir up sturgeon bite; Delta smelt debate takes new tack

Marin Independent Journal-1/28/10

By Alastair Bland



Until floodwaters deposit the Marin IJ offices high and dry atop Mount
Tamalpais, I will refrain from describing the recent rains as biblical. But
they've been epic all right, and they've stirred up the sturgeon bite. 


Ricci Garzoli, who owns DeMello Roofing in San Rafael, took a guest fishing
on Tuesday. The said angler, Larry Jenkins from Wyoming, landed a 56-inch
sturgeon and a surprise 25-pound striped bass on Tuesday. Sean Daugherty,
salesman at Western Sport Shop, took a friend of his own out the same day.
The fisherman was Alan Choy of San Francisco, and Choy wound up with a
57-inch sturgeon - plus the $100-upon-return Fish and Game tag it was


Now, rarely does one catch a fish longer than the water is deep, but when
Scott Snyder of Tracy dropped his anchor in just 5 feet of water near
Hamilton Field last Sunday, he was bound to come close. In the end, he
caught and released a 7-footer. What else is there to say? Grab some mud
shrimp and go fishing.


I recently reported that the Fish and Wildlife Service issued a biological
opinion just over a year ago calling for minimum freshwater flows to assure
survival of the Delta smelt. Now further threads unravel from this yarn. It
seems that Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, at the request of Stewart
Resnick, the wealthy owner of Paramount Farms, called for a review of the
opinion, which has mandated limitations on water exports from the Delta
(though the drought, not federal agencies, is the root of the problem).


So on Tuesday a panel of several experts assembled in Davis to discuss the
2008 biological opinion and debate whether the science on which it's based
is sound. Rick Deriso, a San Diego biologist and a member of the
Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, spoke on behalf of farming
interests that have challenged the biological opinion. These groups,
naturally, want more water, and this tuna expert claimed, through some
reasoning, that Delta water pumps have negligible detrimental effects on the
Delta smelt. Seems to me unlikely, but what do I know? I'm not the tuna


But Tina Swanson, executive director of the Bay Institute in Novato and an
expert on fish that actually live in the Delta, says the pumps are
undoubtedly killing fish. Swanson, who also attended the meetings in Davis,
believes that the 2008 biological opinion is based upon "very high-quality
science" and cites a half dozen species, including striped bass, American
shad and Delta smelt, now traveling on trajectories toward extinction. The
Delta smelt population, for one, hit a record low in 2009, and juvenile
stripers are currently scarce, according to DFG trawl surveys.


"Clearly, something in the Delta is very wrong," Swanson said.


But to those who simply don't care about fish, this is all meaningless.


The current review of the 2008 Fish and Wildlife Service's biological
opinion is the second such process. The Bay Institute itself challenged the
previous federal opinions on how to best protect Delta smelt and Chinook
salmon, and the 2008 opinion is the result of that process. Now it's under
review. The game could go on for ages. Hang in there, smelt.#


Alastair Bland is a Bay Area fisherman. 



Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land/fax (call first to fax)

415 519 4810 mobile

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

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