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Ocean Protection Council hears from fishermen

By Greg Thomas Sep 11, 2008, Half Moon Bay Review

The California Ocean Protection Council Thursday wrapped up a two-part, two-day meeting at the Oceano Hotel and Spa to address various marine-related issues of immediate interest to state and local officials and activists.

Nearly 100 Coastsiders were in attendance Thursday to witness a panel discussion on the status of salmon populations in the state. The council fielded questions to individual members of the panel, which included representatives from the California Department of Fish and Game, the state Water Resources Control Board, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman's Associations and other agencies.

Though the agenda called for a dialogue on salmon, the discussion quickly snowballed into a discourse over the quality of state watersheds.

California Coastkeeper Alliance Executive Director Linda Sheehan recommended a wider approach to stifling the decline of salmon populations.

"We need to focus on clear, cold abundant water," she said. "The frustration is that we know what a lot of the issues are. Studies are great, but in conjunction with comprehensive action."

Sheehan noted that many of the problems salmon face, including poor water quality and inadequate water quantity, are shared by humans as well.

"What other things can benefit from the same things we'd do for salmon," she asked council board members. "To me, we need to deal with the problem but (recognize that) we're doing more than just for salmon."

Seated alongside Sheehan and representing the Pacific Coast Fisherman's Association was Executive Director Zeke Grader, an outspoken advocate of removing inland dams in as a base point of action.

Citing the late biologist Oscar Hammerstein, Grader implored, "'Fish gotta swim.' But we continue to keep losing the habitat where these fish can swim. We need to fix this. I don't think we need more reports."

Grader continued to outline his action plan for the council, which consisted of three main objectives.

"First, we have to get the dams down," he said. "No. 2, we need to get at the water quality issues. And third, stop the impingement (of salmon) at the pumps at critical times (of the year). Unless you do that you don't have the foundation to build on."

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