Nick Cahill, COURTHOUSE NEWS SERVICE
Both conservationists and water suppliers are upset with a proposal that federal and state officials say is aimed at ensuring Chinook salmon survive the California drought.
Fishing groups and water suppliers fighting the Biden administration’s proposed drought rules for California’s water system told a federal judge Friday the emergency plans won’t stop the demise of endangered salmon.
With California trudging through another disappointingly dry winter, the federal government and state officials have agreed upon a set of temporary rules they claim are necessary to preserve enough cold water on the Sacramento River for Chinook salmon this spring and summer. The rules call for new water temperature targets and improved collaboration between federal and state officials on the management of California’s two main water conveyance systems.
But the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and other conservation groups cast the “interim operations plan” as a half-baked measure that will lead to a third consecutive year of salmon die-offs. They want the feds to hold off on upcoming water deliveries and subsequently store more cold water behind Shasta Dam in the event hydrological conditions remain dreadful.
In addition, a group of water agencies claim the interim plan was untested and, if implemented, would likely violate their contracts with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
The overarching issue are endangered species permits or biological opinions adopted by the Trump administration in 2019 that critics said severely weakened protections for salmon and water quality in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
Read more at https://www.courthousenews.com/critics-rip-feds-half-baked-plan-to-save-california-salmon/
SONOMA ECOLOGY CENTER
The abundant rainfall that Sonoma County received in late October created ideal conditions for Chinook (King salmon) to return to Sonoma Creek. Several streamside residents contacted Sonoma Ecology Center with the news and sent in photos and videos of salmon transiting their favorite creek viewing spots. In response, SEC’s Richard Dale and Research Program Manager and aquatic scientist Steven Lee jumped into action and ran out to the creeks to document the event. One outcome was this amazing video Steven assembled of the salmon as they made their journey upstream and began settling into their spawning habitats.
Chinook were known to have successfully spawned in Sonoma Creek a few years ago, and it’s possible some of these are their offspring returning to spawn. The Sonoma Ecology Center has conducted studies of young fish migrating out of Sonoma Creek and found, in addition to steelhead, a surprising number of young Chinook are heading out to the bay and ocean. It’s hard to know for sure if these fish originate from Sonoma Creek – there are many salmon released from hatcheries in the Central Valley who could be making their way up our waterways. Some of the fish we observed do have clipped adipose fins – an indication that they were raised in a hatchery. However, many of the fish in Sonoma Creek right now lack this indicator and their size suggests that they are the right age to have come from the last run here.
Read more at https://sonomaecologycenter.org/sonoma-creek-salmon/?
Isabella Vanderheiden, THE TIMES STANDARD
Dwindling Chinook salmon runs have forced the Pacific Fishery Management Council to shorten the commercial salmon fishing season. The Sacramento Valley fall-run Chinook salmon runs are projected to be half as abundant as the 2020 season while the Klamath River fall Chinook abundance forecast is slightly higher than the 2020 but is still significantly lower than the long-term average.
During a press briefing on Friday morning, John McManus President of the Golden State Salmon Association said the added restrictions will deal a blow to commercial fishermen.
“You may wonder why we’re in this predicament this year, there are some near term and some longer-term reasons why but at the end of the day, we’re seeing a decline in our salmon runs here in the state of California,” McManus said. “In large measure, because of what’s happening in their freshwater habitat where they’re just not getting enough to give us healthy populations year in and year out.”
A normal salmon fishing season brings in about $1.4 billion statewide and employs approximately 23,000 people, McManus said.
“The salmon out of the Central Valley are caught in the ocean, not only off California but all the way up along the Oregon coast. This is a major economic shot in the arm for coastal communities and for inland communities as well,” he said.
According to the CDFW website, commercial salmon fishing typically opens on May 1 but this year the season is “closed in 2021” from the Oregon border down to Humboldt Bay’s south jetty.
Read more at: https://www.times-standard.com/2021/03/12/were-getting-hit-left-and-right-dwindling-salmon-runs-to-restrict-2021-commercial-season/