Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

Deja Moo - The same BS all over again
"This problem isn't the result of a huge series of innocent actions, but the result of years of mismanagement and downright fraud," (regarding Pacific Coast and Klamath fisheries)

By Pat Ratliff, Klamath Courier 4/11/06

What do loggers, miners, farmers and now salmon fishermen have in common?  If you're waiting for a joke as the answer, you won't find it here; this is much too serious and devastating to joke about.  The answer is that all of these groups of people have had their lives and livelihoods ruined by mismanagement of Federal programs run amok.

Last Thursday, the Pacific Fishery Management Council, (PFMC), ignoring scientific facts, common sense and concern for the welfare of salmon fishermen, and the communities they live in voted to sharply reduce, and in many locations, close totally the 2006 Chinook salmon fishing season.

We're not talking saving a species here, Chinook Salmon aren't even endangered.  We're talking about an arbitrary number of fish that someone decided needed to head up the river this year to spawn. 

The higher up muckety-mucks of the Pacific Fishery Management Council have somehow decided that 35,000 fish, by their estimate, need to return up the river to spawn naturally.  They have no way of actually counting the fish, so are more than happy to use estimates and scientific (sic) models to TRY and predict how many fish will return.  By their estimate, 29,000 fish will return.  35,000 fish minus 29,000 fish equals 6,000 fish, let's keep that magic number in mind as we wade through the federal BS.  6000 fish, by government guesses, are going to destroy lives and towns up and down the Oregon and California coast.

With very high numbers of returning fish in other rivers this year, common sense would tell us that, because not all hatchery fish are marked, it's very easy for many fish to not be counted, or counted for the wrong rivers fishery.
According to coastal fishermen, fish from hatcheries on other rivers have been used to supplement the breeding stock of Klamath River hatcheries time and time again.  As these and all other fish intermingle, and return to spawn in Klamath, as they have for generations, the very idea of a "natural Klamath River fish" becomes a non-issue, there simply is no such thing.  Scientists, DNA or anyone or any thing else cannot tell the difference between the fish, rightfully so, because there is no difference.  Going to the Sacramento or other rivers having record runs this year to collect 6,000 fish to add to the numbers of spawning fish in the Klamath would be both fairly simple and very cost effective compared to the devastation of shutting down the fisheries, but we're talking common sense, not "scientific management".

Section 16 U.S.C. 1082(13)  of the Magnuson Act requires the Council to develop management plans and plan amendments based on equal consideration of all members of a fishery or stock of fish, but the Council is doing no such thing.  Large numbers of hatchery fish are not being counted in the totals.  "Klamath River fall Chinook that will spawn naturally" is a sub-entity not recognized nor authorized by the Magnuson Act.

But wait, there's more, sadly, much, much more.

In 1991 and 1992, fish counts went drastically below the arbitrary 35,000 number, to 12,000 fish.  Yet in the returning runs from those years, record numbers of salmon came back up the river.  So much for the federally mandated arbitrary 35,000 fish number I'd say.  In fact, I'll say more; it's beginning to seem like those idiots in the PFMC are supporting an unscientific agenda and those pushing that agenda, at the expense of a small group of unorganized people, for the political power and money (lots and lots of money) associated with it.  Here is where you are reminded of the loggers, miners and farmers, and the devastation of their lives.
Let's talk sea lions.  By varied estimates there are between 300-700 sea lions at the mouth of the Klamath River.  Using the smaller 300 sea lion count, during a 90 day season, and eating one fish per day, those sea lions would eat 27,000 fish, each and every one headed straight for the Klamath River.  We've all seen the videos of the sea lions at the Ballard Locks eating many fish a day, or to be more exact, catching a salmon, taking one bite out of its stomach and then throwing it away to catch another.  Remember, each returning female Chinook salmon will be carrying 3500-5000 eggs.  Each female Chinook eaten by a sea lion is a loss of up to 5000 young fish to begin the long journey downstream to the ocean, yet nothing is being done about the sea lions in the Klamath River.

Sea lions are threatened, but not endangered.  Fisheries managers and others are allowed to harass the destructive pinnipeds by a number of ways to get them to leave an area, either temporarily or permanently.  In extreme cases they are allowed to shoot certain animals.

In the Columbia River, San Francisco Bay and Ballard, Washington, programs to deal with flourishing numbers of wasteful and destructive sea lions are in place, yet fisheries management has scarcely acknowledged the fact the sea lions are even at the mouth of the Klamath River, let alone destroying a huge number of returning Klamath River salmon.  Simply harassing or moving temporarily 67 of those sea lions would bring the numbers of returning salmon over the 35,000 number, at a much smaller cost than any other option, and would seem to be a simple fix to the arbitrary 35,000 returning fish problem causing the shutoff of the fishing season this year.

Acclimation sites, pens downriver which hatchery fish are trucked to, then raised until they are older before release is a proven method to enlarge the number of small fish escaping mortality and would act in exactly the same context as having higher numbers of returning fish this year.  Apparently, this concept is beyond the comprehension of PFMC members, despite continued successful use on the Columbia River and many other locations worldwide.

The Daniels Creek Hatchery in the Coos River System is a great example of small, privately funded independent hatcheries providing millions of fish to a fishery.  They take eggs from government hatcheries and place them in small hatch boxes.  Since 1991, the Daniels Creek Hatchery has released over 10,000,000 (that's with an M - million) disease free fish with private donations, costing the government nothing.  Again, the concept of federal agencies and scientists learning from the public seems to be lost.  Compared to emergency remedies enacted this year, this is again an extremely cheap fix, having the result of more young salmon entering the ocean next spring, which is the supposed purpose of the arbitrary 35,000 fish mark.

None of these fixes are proposed to fix any long term problems in the Klamath River, although they would certainly help.

While the scientists and council muckety-mucks are spouting mouthfuls about long term fixes, they are ignoring the short term, one year destruction of people and livelihoods of the Oregon and Northern California coasts. 
Whatever the long term problems, it boils down to this; if the arbitrary 35,000 returning fish numbers were met, the fishermen could fish during this plentiful year of fish.

Each of these fixes could push either the returning number past 35,000 fish, or return enough small fish next spring to be an equivalent.  Using all of these fixes, in combination could return a lot more than a "minimum" of fish to the sea, in a very cost effective manner, certainly much less than the millions certain to be spent presently.  All of these fixes could be done this year, requiring a certain amount of work and planning by federal agencies (OK, I'll admit it; there's the weak link in the plan), and at the same time permit a full fishing season.

No one is talking extinction of a species or anything like that.  The fishing season isn't being shut down to protect a species. The fishing season is being shut down because a government agency wants 6,000 more fish coming up a river.  As explained earlier, with many fewer fish coming up the river in 1991 and 1992, record runs still resulted, demonstrating the inaccurate science of the arbitrary 35,000 fish number.
One more small suggestion and then I'll be done, for now.  I'd like to suggest that when the immediate needs of relief to the fishermen and communities, fish management, and governmental "blaming it on everyone but themselves" is done with, an immediate investigation of NOAA, the PFMC and anyone else contributing to this fraud upon the public begin.  I believe NOAA and their agencies have proven themselves incapable of managing the fishery, among other things, and management needs to be transferred to some other entity.
I also believe its high time governmental workers be held fully accountable for their actions.  This problem isn't the result of a huge series of innocent actions, but the result of years of mismanagement and downright fraud.  Jail time and huge personal fines are certainly needed and appropriate.

OK, I do have one joke.

One NOAA official said to the other, "Should we try moving some of the sea lions away from the returning fish and count ALL the fish returning up the Klamath River?"

The other NOAA official replies, "Don't bother me now, I'm trying to shut off water to 1400 farm families in the Klamath Basin."

Sorry, guess it wasn't that funny after all.



Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:15 AM  Pacific

Copyright klamathbasincrisis.org, 2005, All Rights Reserved