[env-trinity] Marin Independent Journal 4 8 10
bwl3 at comcast.net
Mon Apr 19 10:45:43 PDT 2010
Water mismanagement is killing off our salmon fisheries
Marin Independent Journal-4/18/10
By Peter Grenell
Peter Grenell is the general manager of the San Mateo County Harbor
For West Coast harbors, salmon mean business. The obverse is also a true - a
lack of salmon means a lack of business.
For the past two years, there has been no salmon fishing due to greatly
reduced stocks. Even if there is a token season this year, it will do little
or nothing to revive the fortunes of the commercial fleet and the myriad
businesses that depend indirectly on salmon, such as boat and tackle
retailers, fuel purveyors, charter operators, restaurants and motels.
The absence of salmon also affects our harbor district and other harbor
administrations, which collected significant revenues from salmon-related
businesses when the fishery was flourishing.
The collapse of California's salmon fishery is due to human mismanagement,
not the vagaries of nature. By allowing unrestrained and irresponsible
pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and ignoring the
established science on the biological requirements of anadromous fish, we
have brought our wild salmon to the brink of extinction.
As the general manager of the San Mateo County Harbor District, I see the
impacts of a devastated fishery and a hollowed-out fleet every day. The
statistics confirm that economic disruption and real human misery are
playing out along the California coast. In the Bay Area, this is
particularly evident at Pillar Point Harbor, which was established as a
harbor of refuge for the commercial fishing fleet.
Since the salmon fishery collapsed, Pillar Point's transient dockage fees
are down 25 percent and boat launch fees are off by more than 22 percent.
Typically, Pillar Point berth occupancy stands at 100 percent. During a busy
salmon season, occupancy ran as high as 103 percent; we would accommodate
the extra boats via rafting and mooring. In 2008, berth occupancy dropped to
87 percent, and it is still down substantially.
We also see far fewer visitors to the harbor. The parking lots were always
full during the salmon season. These days, they are almost empty. We run an
off-the-boat retail sales program at Pillar Point, where commercial
fishermen sell their catch directly to customers. We still get visitors
during the Dungeness crab, rockfish and albacore seasons, but the real draw
has always been the salmon. Today, that market is gone.
How have the salmon season closures affected the San Mateo County Harbor
District? It has been a disaster - literally. We had to apply for Federal
Disaster Relief funds to mitigate for the loss of fishing. The district
received more than $83,000 in total in disaster relief for 2008 and 2009.
Other harbors along the California coast have experienced similar downturns.
The Port of Santa Cruz, for example, typically posted zero vacancies for its
900 berths. Since 2008, vacancies have hovered at 5 percent. That may not
seem like much, but a berthing loss of even a few points can have
devastating financial impacts on a harbor. In Santa Cruz, berthing revenue
losses are now running at $120,000 a year. Gross concession sales are down
by $300,000 to $400,000 annually.
These numbers demonstrate that the loss of the salmon season affects more
than fishermen. Compounding this tragedy is the fact that it could have been
Salmon are the basis of a sustainable economy. They are good business, the
kind of business California needs. We have pushed salmon and the fishing
industry to the edge - but with some will and guts, we can bring them back.
To do anything less is unacceptable.#
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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