Summit on Saving Wild Pacific Salmon
US Congresswomen Jackie Speier in conjunction with US Congressman Mike Thompson sponsored a “Salmon Summit” at Maverick’s Lodge in Half Moon Bay, CA on Saturday, December 4. The meeting was attended by commercial fishermen, marina owners, salmon wholesalers, tackle shops, tackle manufactures and environmental and conservation representatives from government as well as NGO’s. Those attending were strongly interested in the devastating impact caused by the severe decline in Pacific Salmon populations and the subsequent three year closure of the commercial and sportfishing seasons. It is estimated that the full recovery of the Central Valley Chinook Salmon runs could recover the 94,000 jobs and the $5.7 billion in lost annual revenue for the state.
Agenda speakers included Christina Swanson, Executive Director of The Bay Institute, Zeke Grader, Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman’s Association, Dick Pool, owner of Pro-Troll Fishing Products and administrator of Water4 Fish, a representative of the Dept of Water Resources (DWR), a representative of the National Marine Fisheries Service, a representative of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and several others involved with fishing and businesses supporting the salmon industry. Each speaker talked about actions being taken and actions which needed to be taken to restore the salmon populations. The most important issue which has not been fully addressed by people having control over water deliveries, is the amount of water and the timing of the flow from the Delta through the pumps moving the water south to the Westlands Water District and the agricultural businesses on the west side of the San Juaquin Valley. The representatives of the California DWR and the BLM were in favor of building a “peripheral conveyance” to deliver water south and to project Salmon and the Delta ecosystem. Fishing and environmental groups feel a “peripheral conveyance” would only allow agricultural interests to take more water from northern California leaving less water for fish.
At the conclusion of the meeting, there seemed to be a sense of anger and frustration with the lack of progress being made to restore the Salmon fisheries. Someone made a comparison between the environmental damage done by Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the damage done by excessive exports of water from the Delta to Westlands Water District and the large agriculture businesses in the San Juaquin Valley. The damage to Salmon industry just doesn’t get the same attention as the Gulf of Mexico.
At the end of the three hour meeting, Jackie Speier was impressed with the attendance and the speakers and all of the issues brought to her attention. Both members of the House of Representatives expressed a strong desire to do whatever they could do and to “follow the science” in the decision making process in order to make things right for the Salmon.
Flycasters members have asked what they can do to help the salmon recovery. I would say stay informed by going to the web sites of the organizations involved in working toward a solution to this big problem such as Salmon Water Now (www.salmonwaternow.org), California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA, www.calsport.org), Environmental Water Caucus (www.ewccalifornia.org), Restore the Delta (www.restorethedelta.org), The Bay Institute (www.bay.org), Water4Fish (www.water4fish.org), and even Westlands Water District (www.westlandswater.org.) And if you have time write letters to your government representatives to voice your support for efforts to restore Salmon to California.
Flycasters Conservation Committee Co-chairman