Oct 5 2010

Stealth State Plan Would End Salmon Fishing in California

Creative Commons License photo credit: kbear65
Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Assns, Exec. Dir.

At the end of any State Administration, agencies try to ram through plans and projects they have been working on for years. That’s understandable. But I’m shocked and outraged that the Resources Agency is trying to sneak through a plan that would kill California’s salmon fishing industry, eliminate thousands of jobs and devastate coastal communities. That’s not how they’re framing it, of course: they’re dressing it up as a plan to “save” the Delta and distribute water equitably. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In reality, it’s a plan to destroy the Delta and keep corporate farms in the San Joaquin Valley awash in cheap, taxpayer-subsidized water.

A week ago, the State Resources Agency released a curious document. The state insists that it is not a draft plan for the Delta, but it sure looks like one. As it stands now, this proposal would gut federal protections for salmon and other fish covered by the Endangered Species Acts. It proposes to revive a version of the Environmental Water Account, an utterly failed and now-abandoned scheme to cap the ability of fisheries agencies to limit the transport of fresh water from the Delta. And finally, the plan promotes a huge new canal and still weaker rules to allow for even more pumping. This is all driven by the desire of Central Valley agribusiness to seize more taxpayer-subsidized water, the salmon and our Bay-Delta ecosystem be damned.

As I write this post, the state is working to finalize this egregious give-away to the nation’s largest corporate farms in closed-door meetings — meetings from which fishermen and the Delta community have been banned. For fishermen, this is producing a profound and uneasy sense of deja vu: we’ve been here before. Whenever we have been excluded from the table, whenever state authorities and corporate agribusiness convene in secret, the salmon — and salmon fishermen — suffer.

Read more here.

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