Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
All of the following papers
have in some way placed blame on the Klamath
Project, federal water management, agriculture or
Collection by Dan Keppen, Family Farm Alliance Executive Director 3/23/06
Pacific Fishery Management Council
Subject: Closure of Sport and Commercial Salmon Fishing
Dear Council Members,
We are writing about the recent recommendation by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to end all sport and commercial salmon fishing on the Oregon and California coast. We ask you to repudiate NOAA's recommendation.
NOAA's recommendation is the result of bad federal policy in Oregon's Klamath Basin. Because the federal government failed to manage properly water flows in the Klamath River, the fall chinook salmon run is dwindling. NOAA's response is to completely close all sport and commercial salmon fishing, rather than to request other federal agencies to restore adequate water flows and to take other necessary steps to restore salmon runs in the Klamath River.
Sport and commercial salmon fishing account for, at most, only a miniscule loss of threatened salmon. Other factors account for the vast majority of salmon loss: dams, irrigation, water warming and water degradation. Under the NOAA recommendation, coastal communities in Oregon and California would be made to suffer for this administration's failure to address the real causes of salmon decline.
Before we implement an extreme policy such as closing off all sport and commercial salmon fishing, we need to demand that the administration do the right thing in the Klamath Basin. The administration's Klamath Basin water policies have exacerbated salmon loss. The federal government needs to look at the major causes of salmon decline rather than focus on minuscule to non-existent contributors such as fishing. No other approach can or will ever restore the Klamath fall chinook.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council must use real science as the basis of its decision and develop a real solution for salmon. We ask you to reject NOAA's recommendation to ban sport and commercial salmon fishing.
Very truly yours,
Recreational salmon season gets nod, commercial still in doubt
By Joel Gallob Of the News-Times
This year's returning Klamath Chinook represent
the members of the 2002 year out-migrating fish that
escaped predators and fishermen, reached maturity
after four years in the ocean, and will soon be
coming back to the river to spawn.
In 2002, pressed by Klamath farmers, the
White House and Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) and
Interior Secretary Gale Norton authorized diversion
of Klamath River water to Klamath Basin farmers.
2002 was a drought year and that diversion, most of
the region's fishery scientists say, led to the
extraordinary fish die-off that year. Now, four
years later, it has led to a prediction of
insufficient returning spawners.
All of the following papers have in some way placed blame on the Klamath Project, federal water management, agriculture or irrigation
Redding Record Searchlight:"Chinook run spawns ban talk" Feb 28, 2006 (Glen Spain quoted).
a Year Without Local Salmon"
March 3, 2006 (Glen Spain and NRDC’s Barry Nelson
Fishing Ban Considered"
March 4, 2006 (Zeke Grader quoted)
ban could keep California king salmon off the hook"
March 6, 2006 (Glen Spain and Barry Nelson quoted).
provides example for Snake"
March 7, 2006 ("regional director" of PCFFA quoted).
times for salmon fishermen"
March 9, 2006 (Article has several references to low
river flows, irrigation runoff as reasons for
declining salmon populations)
prognosis for salmon season"
March 10, 2006 (Article references fish die-off and
focus on low, hot, poor quality water).
season might be awfully short"
March 12, 2006 (points to poor habitat and water
conditions in the river as reasons for Klamath
National Public Radio: "Officials Consider Ban on Commercial Salmon Fishing", on "All Things Considered", March 13, 2006 (blames the dams on the river….and also blames irrigation") (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5260429)
Oroville Mercury Register: "Salmon drought" March 12, 2006. Steve Pedery of ONRC is quoted as saying "the folks that manage the river have made it into this mess. The article states that the river is running low, warm and full of pollution from agricultural runoff, which contributed to the 2002 fish die-off.
Redding Record-Searchlight, CA: "Chinook run spawns ban talk" March 1, 2006
season may shut down"
March 1, 2006
Eugene Register-Guard, OR: "Glum forecast for summer chinook" March 1, 2006
March 1, 2006
Mull Opening of Salmon Fisheries"
March 7, 2006
Newport News-Times: "Oregon troll fishermen oppose 'zero option'" March 8, 2006
Oregonian:"Feds call for halt this season of salmon fisheries off coast" March 8, 2006
NW Fishletter:"Harvest Managers Weigh West Coast Fishing Option" March 9, 2006
Columbia Basin Bulletin: "Salmon Fishing Faces Closure Off Oregon, California Coasts" March 10, 2006
Coos Bay World:"Running low on options" March 11, 2006
San Francisco Chronicle: "Salmon season start in limbo" March 12, 2006
Newport News-Times: "2006 Salmon season may be in jeopardy", Feb 24, 2006.
The Union of Grass Valley, CA: "Salmon season hangs in balance", Feb 26, 2006. According to this article, this year is the return from the fall 2002 spawn. Recent events are symptomatic of water quality and quantity issues in the Klamath River drainage.
Katu 2 - Portland: "Salmon Ban Could Beach Oregon Fishing Boats", Feb 27, 2006. Fishing industry officials say mistakes made in the conflict over Klamath Basin water levels and tribal allocations have led to the problem.
Curry Coastal Pilot - Brookings, OR: "Trouble For Summer Salmon?", March 1, 2006. Coastal fishermen maintain that Klamath Project diversions kill salmon by raising the temperature of the water and contributing to the severity of a parasite infestation. Upriver irrigators, for their part, see efforts to increase the flow of the river as an attack on farming.
Ft. Bragg Advocate:"Big economic impacts feared from ocean salmon season closure", March 2, 2006. Dan Bacher' blames the crisis on the Bush Administration. "Karl Rove pressured Gale Norton (Interior Secretary) to divert the Klamath water to agribusiness at the expense of fish, tribes, recreational anglers and commercial fishermen to curry favor with local farmers so an Oregon Republican Senator would be reelected. Now recreational anglers, the Klamath Basin Tribes, commercial fishermen and the entire economy of Northern California will suffer because of the greed of a few," Bacher reported.
Willits News - Willits, CA:"Klamath fish die off continues to affect lives", March 3, 2006. In 2002 the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reduced the flow in the Klamath River, to help farmers secure enough water for their crops. As a result, disease spread quickly and at least 133,000 fish (95 percent salmon) died and literally wiped out a large portion of the Chinook run that year.
Santa Cruz Sentinel:"The Big Fish Story: Will salmon fishing be banned?", March 3, 2006. "Some blame potato farmers for taking too much water upstream in Oregon…..There are those who say too much water is diverted from the river in the fall, which kills the salmon because there's not enough oxygen in the water."
Oregonian: "Outlook worsens for ocean salmon season", March 11, 2006. Between irrigation, dams and habitat destruction, the river has become one plagued by fish diseases and chronically low salmon runs. U.S. Reps. David Wu and Peter DeFazio, both Oregon Democrats, said the decline of Klamath salmon is the result of failed federal water policies in the Klamath Basin, and the government must look at all the factors that contribute instead of fishing alone. Under a halt to fishing, "coastal communities in Oregon and California would be made to suffer for this administration's failure to address the real causes of salmon decline," they wrote to the council.
San Mateo, CA:"Salmon ban crushing blow to fishing industry", March 12, 2006. The Klamath salmon die-off occurred when the water was diverted for agriculture, leaving the salmon stranded in shallow, cloudy, warm water filled with parasites. A coastal fishermen is quoted as saying the fish were killed by man-made conditions. "Rice farmers get subsidies for not farming their fields, but there's no subsidy for our local fishermen. "
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