Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
Last night more than 55 people met at the Klamath Government Center at the Klamath County Natural Resources Advisory Council meeting to hear the fishermen speak about their crisis. And the Klamath irrigators are taking measures to help them financially when the government and environmentalists sit and blame the farmers for salmon woes. At that meeting alone, nearly $900 was collected for fishermen when the hat was passed.
But since the Management Council cannot legally avoid counting non-wild salmon since wild salmon are a thing of the past, they made a new rule that they would not count "hatchery spawned" salmon. They only count salmon that spawn outside the hatchery. And their "projected" estimate of the fall run "natural spawners" is lower than their random goal.
According to Paul Merz of Charleston, Oregon, there are 300 sea lions living near the mouth of the Klamath River in late summer and early fall. With each lion eating more than one salmon per day from August 1-October 15, they kill more than 22,500 adult fish that should be part of the Klamath river harvest or out there spawning.
Rather than allow fishermen to discourage sea lion predation, the government has chosen to essentially shut down commercial fisheries, financially breaking an entire industry and their communities.
He said that weak-stock management is not right. There are plenty of Chinook in the ocean and in several rivers, however the regulators take a river with a low projected run and they regulate the entire fishery based on that one river. He said the Pacific Fisheries Management Council, PFMC, told him that the only control they have is to regulate fishermen. "We're used to terrible seasons and conditions; we have no lives; we just survive. They give us an opening over a holiday, they don't let us fish when there are fish and don't let us fish where there are fish."
Goche proposed three solutions for a proposed alliance that all could agree on:
* We don't support weak-stock management
He said the governmental management schemes are keeping fishermen and farmers fighting. "We need our own scientists making our own data."
"(Oregon Governor) Kulongoski's rolled up his sleeves and gave us a list of welfare agencies." Goche said most of the fishermen aren't renters, they have loans, they own houses, and they are not eligible for welfare.
"We need the Whitehouse to declare a disaster."
Klamath Water Users Association and Family Farm Alliance have asked for a disaster declaration for the fishermen.
Throughout the meeting the farmers identified with the fishermen. They have been there, dealing with non-scientific regulations that only support the agenda of destroying their industry. Farmers related when one fisherman said how hard it was when his 7 and 9-yr old daughters read a sign that said, "30 days is not a season" and asked their dad if they he would be able to make any money this year.
It was discussed that the PFMC has only one commercial fisherman representative on the council of 14. The Dept of Commerce appoints the management council. It was the Dept of Commerce (along with the Dept of Justice and Bureau of Indian Affairs) that contracted Dr. Hardy to write the science for the biological opinion that shut down the Klamath Project in 2001. The same people, tribal biologists and environmentalists, collected the river data to shut down the fisheries..
It was discussed how senseless the 4-day/week fishing season is when the fishermen aren't allowed over 75 fish.
It was discussed how disorganized the PFMC is, and how they stuck in this 4-day season last minute with no sense and with only political motivation.
Klamath Project farmer Bill Kennedy supported the concept of an alliance with fishermen and farmers, based on the truth and avoiding blame. Several government agencies, environmental groups, tribes and green media have focused on pitting farmers and fishermen against each other, diverting attention from their own groups whose agenda it is to decimate the farming and fishing industries.
Checks or money orders may be made out to Klamath Relief Fund for Commercial Fishermen at P.O. Box 5252, Klamath Falls, OR 97601. Or, funds can be brought to any U.S. National Bank.
Page Updated: Friday August 10, 2012 12:57 AM Pacific
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