[env-trinity] Westlands Move to Kill Salmon
bwl3 at comcast.net
Mon Feb 1 18:46:45 PST 2010
Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations
For Immediate Release: February 1, 2010
Zeke Grader, PCFFA: (415) 561-5080, ext. 224, <mailto:zgrader at ifrfish.org>
zgrader [at] ifrfish.org
Dick Pool, Water4Fish: (925) 825-8560, <mailto:pool94549 at sbcglobal.net>
pool94549 [at] sbcglobal.net
Agribusiness Giant Westlands Moves to Kill Salmon
Seeks legal permission to double death rate of migrating baby salmon in
Fresno, CA Westlands Water District has asked a federal judge in Fresno to
issue a temporary restraining order to block a federal salmon restoration
plan that protects salmon and other fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta. Westlands move could put the survival of California and Oregon's
multi-billion dollar commercial and recreational salmon fishing industry on
The group is requesting a court to order lifting restrictions on the
operation of huge delta water pumps and canals from February through May.
Pumping water from the delta south is restricted at this time to protect
baby salmon that migrate from the Sacramento River to the ocean during this
period. The pumps move massive volumes of fresh water from the Delta to
farms and cities to the south. Past pumping during the spring salmon
migration is known to have killed large numbers of salmon. The request is
expected to be heard in U.S. District Court tomorrow.
The restrictions in question were put in place in 2009 as part of a federal
salmon restoration plan, known as a Biological Opinion. Recent studies
indicate that the salmon restoration plan may increase the baby salmon
survival by at least fifty percent. The salmon restoration plan protects
threatened species of salmon and other native fish. It also helps improve
the survival of non- threatened, commercially valuable fall-run chinook
salmon. Sacramento River fall-run chinook, commonly known as king salmon,
form the backbone of Oregon and California's salmon fishing industry.
Fishing families along one thousand miles of U.S. coastline rely on healthy
runs of Sacramento River salmon to make a living; they depend on keeping the
current salmon protection plan in place, said Zeke Grader, executive
director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations. Too
much water is being taken from the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta estuary salmon, fishing families, coastal communities and seafood
consumers have paid a heavy price as a result.
In a typical year, the Sacramento's fall-run chinook represent ninety
percent of the salmon caught off California, and sixty percent of the salmon
caught off Oregon. The recent catastrophic collapse of the Sacramento's once
mighty salmon runs, driven in large part by poor water management in the
Delta, has led to two years of closed fishing in two states, hundreds of
millions in lost income, and tens of thousands of lost jobs.
The shutdown of the California recreational and commercial salmon fishing
industry for the last two years has already erased $2.8 billion dollars and
23,000 jobs from our state's economy, said Dick Pool, program manager of
Water4Fish. The 2009 adult salmon returns to the Sacramento are almost
assured to reach another all-time record low. The past water export
practices have been the root cause of this decline. This federal fish
restoration plan is the absolute minimum we need to begin a turnaround of
Salmon, and the fishing families that depend on them, will have even more to
lose if Westlands gets its way. According to the National Marine Fishery
Service, when the Delta pumps are on, baby salmon are diverted from their
natural route in the mainstem Sacramento River into the central and southern
Delta waterways, where they suffer mortality rates of sixty five percent.
The diverted salmon also fall victim to the Delta pumps. Only one baby
salmon in six survives an encounter with state pumping facilities, while
only one in three survives after being drawn into federal pumps.
The federal fish restoration plans for the Delta have been strongly opposed
by Westlands and other western San Joaquin Valley agribusiness, as well
southern California land speculators. Western San Joaquin growers and their
Congressional representatives have overlooked or belittled clear evidence
that Delta water withdrawals have exceeded the ecological carrying capacity
of the Delta. Those favoring more water exports have further refused to
acknowledge the economic damage done to Oregon and California's
multi-billion dollar sport and commercial salmon fishery caused by the
excessive water withdrawals from the Delta.
The Delta is the single most important estuary on the West Coast of the
Americas and provides habitat and a migratory pathway between Sierra Nevada
streams and the Golden Gate for the West Coasts second largest salmon run.
Biologists have grown alarmed in recent years about the cascading series of
crashing Delta fish populations; not only salmon and steelhead, but Delta
smelt, striped bass, longfin smelt, sturgeon and Sacramento splittail are
all in trouble.
In November of 2007, the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) fall
survey of native delta fish found that five out of the six fish surveyed had
declined to all time record low numbers. These surveys make it clear that
there are biological limits to the amount of water that can be exported
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
<mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org
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