Salmon Industry Leader Warns About Salmon Fallout In California

(NOAA photo by Thomas Dunklin)


Noah Oppenheim, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations,  contributed a powerful column in the San Francisco Chronicle  about California’s contentious water situation. From outgoing Governor (for the second time) Jerry Brown’s controversial tunnels plan that could threaten salmon passage from saltwater through the Delta to the potential for more dams on Northern California/Central Valley reservoirs,  a boxing match that seems to be pitting distributing valuable Delta water towards farmers and Southern California communities and conservationists and the fishing industry focused on restoring salmon spawning habitat.

Here’s Oppenheim in the Chronicle, referencing Senator Dianne Feinstein’s new national water bill that some believe will affect the state’s already fragile salmon runs:

Feinstein’s anti-fishing rider would allow the Trump administration to pump even more water out of the delta in violation of required protections for endangered salmon. The five-year WIIN Act was initially passed during a similar lame duck period in 2016, without any hearings or oversight, as a temporary measure to respond to drought. Now the feds are proposing to extend its authority to 2028, and to add hundreds of millions of dollars to the pork barrel, again without any public hearings.

This agreement also provides hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer funding for unwise dams and diversions, such as building the proposed Sites Reservoir and raising the height of the federal Shasta Dam (which is currently being studied by the Department of the Interior despite such a plan being illegal under state law). The beneficiaries: corporate agricultural interests who are federal water project contractors and who will continue to receive cheap water heavily subsidized by taxpayers.

President Trump, as eager as anyone to weaken environmental safeguards, and outgoing Leader McCarthy, who has worked to coordinate with Feinstein on bad water policies, have done unthinkable damage to fish and the fishing community. This playbook will only result in policies that drive us closer to the brink of salmon extinction.