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Salmon closure worst in history

Shutdown is not related to Klamath issues

By LEE JUILLERAT, Herald and News 5/2/08

(KBC NOTE: This article quotes Glen Spain, PCFFA spokesman and Eugene attorney. Spain has initiated numerous lawsuits against Klamath irrigators including getting compensation for the 2001 water shutoff. He has written Oregon salmon trollers trying to convince them not to deal with the Klamath irrigators: "the leadership of the Klamath Water User's Association (KWUA) do not care about fish -- they care about making sure they have all the irrigation water they want, and the fish be damned. The current closed door efforts of the KWUA to "woo" certain salmon trollers on the Oregon coast to their cause is one example of how they hope to use fishermen for their purposes." PCFFA filed lawsuits with tribes against Klamath irrigators getting a reasonable power rate since they pump the water 7 times, then uphill into the Klamath River to provide mandated higher-than-historic river flows. You won't read that in the Oregonian or Herald and News. Now Spain helps write the Settlement Agreement for supposed irrigation water and better power rates for irrigators with a verbal agreement to quit suing us if we sign on the dotted line. It demands dam removal and land to the Klamath Tribes who sold their reservation. KWUA and districts have signed this blackmail document with no vote from their constituents.)

   The closure of 1,200 miles of the West Coast’s salmon fishery is being called the worst ever, surpassing the 2006 closure caused by the collapse of Klamath River Basin salmon stocks.
   “This is the largest fishing disaster in history, bar none,” said Glen Spain, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations regional director.
   Fe d e r a l a u t h o r i t i e s declared the West Coast ocean salmon fishery a failure Thursday. From page A1 expected to be debated this month in Congress.
   The two helped provide $60.4 million in disaster relief for West Coast salmon f ishermen last year after commercial salmon fishing was virtually eliminated in 2006.
   “ This declaration by NOAA, which comes on a day that should mark the opening of salmon season on the Oregon Coast, is a crucial first step in providing disaster assistance to a fishing industry being devastated by yet another salmon closure,” Wyden said in a prepared statement.
Not related to Klamath
   Spain, who helped negotiate the proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, said the West Coast closure is not related to ongoing fisheries problems in the Klamath River Basin.
   “The issues down there are quite independent of the Klamath. The reality is this is a frightfully different situation,” he said, noting the declines are affecting the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers in California’s Central Valley. “It’s a deeply stressed ecosystem. It’s ominous
   The decision opens the way for Congress to appropriate economic disaster assistance for coastal communities in California, Oregon and Washington.
   “This is a bleak year,” Jim Balsiger, NOAA Fisheries Service acting assistant administrator, said in announcing the declaration in Portland.
   The agency in charge of ocean fishing estimated that the value of this year’s lost catch was $22 million — 90 percent of the fiveyear average — and direct income losses to sport and commercial fishing boats, processors, bait shops and other related businesses at $60 million in the three states.
   The governors of Washington, Oregon and California, who requested the declaration, have estimated that rises to $290 million as it ripples through the economy. California is seeking $208 million, Oregon $45 million and Washington $36 million.
   Sens. Gordon Smith and Ron Wyden, both Oregon, said they would join senators from California and Washington seek emergency funding in the Supplemental Appropriations bill because the whole system is collapsing.”
   T he c lo su r e a f fe c t s salmon-dependent f ishing economies in California and Oregon from the California/Mexican border to the Columbia River. The 2006 closure shut down fishing along 700 miles of coastline.
   “The Klamath has essentially been shoved aside by a much larger disaster,” Spain said.
   Washington will have partial closures to prevent impacts on salmon migrating from California, but Alaska salmon fishermen are not directly affected.
   The closures, recommended last month by the Pacific Fishery Management Council, were triggered by unprecedented low projected adult spawn returns to the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. This year’s Central Valley returns of Chinook salmon are estimated at less than 60,000, not even half the minimum 122,000 spawning adults required to replace the current generation. Returns were as high as 800,000 in 2002 and historically ranged from 2 million to 2-1/2 million.
   “This makes 2008 the third year in a row where California and Oregon commercial ocean salmon fisheries have been severely restricted or closed entirely, and fishermen have lost all or nearly all of their usual income,” Spain said of the impact.

Regional Administrator of NOAA Fisheries Rod McInnis, right, with Dr. James Balsiger, left, and Bob Lohn, answers questions about the announcement that the federal government is declaring a disaster for West Coast salmon fisheries, at a news conference in Portland Thursday.
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