Salmon in the Spotlight
Posted March 31, 2010 in Saving Wildlife and Wild Places
The extensive media coverage about water policy during the past year has often ignored many of those with the most at stake in the future of California water policy - salmon fishermen and women. Tomorrow, those folks will have their say, in a public summit in San Francisco designed to educate lawmakers and the public about the impacts of the unprecedented two-year salmon fishing closure. Thousands of jobs have been lost in coastal communities as a result of this closure. The impact to the state economy is measured in hundreds of millions of dollars. This iconic fishery will only be restored and sustained over the long-term if water projects provide adequate freshwater flows and Delta protections. (In a painful irony, during this summit, a federal judge in Fresno will be hearing proposals from some water users to block protections for salmon under the ESA.)
Despite the fact that the state legislature, Congress and the State Water Board have all established a requirement to double salmon populations in California's Central Valley, populations have plummeted to record lows in recent years. All too often, water projects strive only to meet minimum water flow requirements to avoid causing extinction. The legal requirement to protect California's fishing industry is too often ignored. Perhaps, with the salmon summit tomorrow, that will start to change.