U.S. puts fish above families
Addington, Rayburn Guerin and Russ Brooks --
Special To The Bee
Published 2:15 am PDT Saturday, July 16, 2005
This view is referring to
The Bee's editorial "Klamath in crisis," which
appeared July 3. Greg Addington is executive
director of the Klamath Water Users Association.
Rayburn Guerin is president of the Oregon
Trollers' Association. Russ Brooks is an
attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation.
On May 4, families and communities in Oregon
and Northern California who depend on fishing
for their livelihoods had their businesses taken
away by the federal government. The National
Marine Fisheries Service cut the chinook salmon
fishing season in half, leaving fishermen with
idle boats, workers without jobs and businesses
that depend on fishermen without customers.
huge salmon runs in many rivers, including the
Sacramento, the service claimed commercial
fishing for chinook salmon had to be cut in half
because too few fish were expected to return and
spawn in just one river, the Klamath.
The truth is the government doesn't "count"
all the fish before making decisions that put
entire communities at risk, intentionally
ignoring hatchery fish. If all fish were
considered, the forecast for Klamath River fall
chinook is 110 percent of the 2004 preseason
forecast. The forecast for the Sacramento River
and Central Valley chinook is twice the 2004
preseason forecast - the highest on record.
Congress mandated that the National Marine
Fisheries Service consider the economic impacts
of its regulation on commercial fishermen and
small businesses dependent on the fishing
industry, but the service claims it just didn't
Some, including The Bee's editorial, have
suggested this is a battle between fishermen and
farmers - each of whom depend on water in the
Klamath. We join together to flatly say there is
no such battle. The government bankrupted
farmers to protect fish. Now they are going to
bankrupt fishing families and coastal
communities to protect fish - fish that are in
greater abundance today than last year.
Put simply, the federal government has given
in to activists who put the needs of fish over
the needs of people, families and communities
that depend on commercial fishing. The Oregon
Trollers' Association, joined by fishermen,
businesses and the Pacific Legal Foundation, in
June filed a lawsuit to stop this action. While
we await victory, boats sit idle and families
Meanwhile, fish will return in robust numbers
to rivers in Northern California and Oregon. In
the Sacramento River, one official told The Bee
there are so many fish - nearly 10 times what
are needed - that fish will be washing up on the
Federal decisions have consequences. Sadly,
these misguided decisions will put many
fishermen out of business, costing them their
homes, boats and livelihoods. Worst of all, this
will happen for no good reason.