A California Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture hearing on Wednesday discussed the anticipated dismal salmon runs in Northern California. As the Eureka Times-Standard reported, rosy pictures were not painted about the struggling salmon projections:
Here’s reporter Will Houston with more:
“Things are going to get worse before they get better,” Pacific Fishery Management Councilwoman Marci Yaremko said at the California Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture hearing at the State Capitol on Wednesday.
Wednesday’s committee hearing — titled “Where Have All the Salmon Gone?” — brought together a host of fishery experts, tribal representatives, fishermen and state regulators to discuss what led to the low numbers of returning salmon, the impact on fishing fleets and communities and what to expect in the years to come.
The hearing was held nearly a week after the environmental organization CalTrout and UC Davis released a report stating that nearly 75 percent of the state’s 31 salmon, steelhead and trout species face extinction in the next century if current trends continue.
“We can’t afford to make more mistakes,” North Coast Assemblyman and committee Chairman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) said.
There was also some really interesting banter about the causes of why the salmon outlook – currently and in the next few years – is so bleak.
More from the Times-Standard:
For the Klamath River Basin, Karuk Tribe Natural Resources Policy Advocate Craig Tucker attributed the decline in salmon to “150 years of bad decision-making”, poor land management and unregulated groundwater pumping and irrigation.
“I think it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that we’re basically allowing salmon to be reprocessed into timber and electricity and gold and alfalfa and, increasingly, marijuana,” Tucker said.
Yurok Tribe Fisheries Director Dave Hillemeier stated that low flows in 2014 and 2015 allowed a intestinal parasite to thrive and infect between 80 to 90 juvenile Coho and Chinook salmon on the Klamath River. Hillemeier said there is a “glimmer of hope” that this year’s heavy rains will allow more juveniles to survive.
This year’s low salmon runs are attributed to the low juvenile survival rates from years past, which are also expected to result in low runs in 2018 and 2019, federal fisheries biologist Michael O’Farrell said.
Overall, this is a really good read and gives you an idea of how frustrating things are in the northern part of the state.