Permit Could Help Struggling California Salmon

The following press release is courtesy of the Golden Gate Salmon Association:

San Francisco  — The Golden Gate Salmon Association and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations applaud the State of California for acting to protect California’s economically valuable salmon fishery.  Today, the state announced https://water.ca.gov/News/News-Releases/2019/April/Public-Meetings-on-Permitting-for-Long-term-Operations-of-the-State-  Water-Project-Planned

It will write a permit for the State Water Project, operated by the Department of Water Resources, to continue delivering water to its contractors. The permit will comply with the terms of the CA Endangered Species Act (CESA). The action comes as the Trump administration advances its plans to seize more northern California salmon water and divert it to supporters growing almonds and pistachios in the arid western San Joaquin Valley. State officials announced plans today to develop their own protections rather than rely on the federal government to lead efforts to protect endangered Bay-Delta fish species, as has historically been the case.

This permit will allow the State Water Project to deliver water in an environmentally responsible way.  However, the Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the Central Valley Project and delivers water to farmers in the western San Joaquin Valley, is likely to refuse to comply with new CESA requirements to protect salmon and the Bay-Delta.  Instead, those water users, led by the Westlands Water District and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt (their former lobbyist), are working on a dramatic rollback to existing federal Endangered Species Act protections that have been upheld by scientific review and the federal courts.  (These CVP contractors also include unwitting urban water districts like the Santa Clara Valley Water District and Zone 7 which delivers water to urban areas in Alameda County.)  As a result, salmon advocates are calling for the passage of State Senate Bill 1 (Atkins) which would force the federal water project to comply with state established environmental protections for salmon and the Bay-Delta ecosystem.

“Governor Newsom deserves credit for drawing a line in the sand to protect California’s salmon from federal rollbacks.  This decision is appreciated by all Californians who care about balancing water for urban and ag uses with stewardship of the natural resources we’re blessed with here in California,” said GGSA president John McManus.  “This decision will help protect the tens of thousands of Californians employed directly and indirectly in the state’s salmon industry. It will also help protect the coastal and inland communities that rely on salmon as a main economic driver.  For decades, the federal and state water projects have shared the responsibility to protect salmon and the Bay-Delta.  Under former Westlands Water District Lobbyist and now Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, that is no longer the case.  But the legislature can solve this problem by passing SB 1, which would require the federal government to comply with the new state permit.”

“These actions by the state could remedy the Department of Water Resources’ longstanding failure to operate the State Water Project in a way that protects important salmon resources worth millions of dollars to salmon fishing families,” said Noah Oppenheim, executive director of PCFFA. “Fishery and water agencies need to coordinate their wildlife and water management activities better. Developing this CESA permit is the best way to ensure their coordination benefits fishermen, salmon-dependent coastal communities, and the seafood-loving public.”

About PCFFA

The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations is the largest commercial fishermen’s organization on the West Coast, representing 17 local and regional associations from Santa Barbara to Southeast Alaska. As a major commercial fishing industry trade association, PCFFA represents the interests of commercial fishing families who make their living harvesting and delivering high-quality seafood to America’s tables.

About GGSA

The Golden Gate Salmon Association (www.goldengatesalmonassociation.org) is a coalition of salmon advocates that includes commercial and recreational salmon fisherman, businesses, restaurants, a native tribe, environmentalists, elected officials, families and communities that rely on salmon. GGSA’s mission is to protect and restore California’s largest salmon producing habitat comprised of the Central Valley river’s that feed the Bay-Delta ecosystem and the communities that rely on salmon as a long-term, sustainable, commercial, recreational and cultural resource.

Currently, California’s salmon industry is valued at $1.4 billion in economic activity annually in a normal season and about half that much in economic activity and jobs again in Oregon. The industry employs tens of thousands of people from Santa Barbara to northern Oregon. This is a huge economic bloc made up of commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen (fresh and salt water), fish processors, marinas, coastal communities, equipment manufacturers, the hotel and food industry, tribes, and the salmon fishing industry at large.

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