It’s not the bass, it’s the water

Good Sac Bee article May 7, Should California’s striped bass be vilified as native-fish killers? that investigates the question whether bass predation on salmon is part of the salmon decline. The article clearly concludes that no, they are not the problem at all. The only groups that are trying to push that idea, are those related to the Central Valley farmers. And, in fact, Sean Hayes, NOAA, says even if the bass were removed, other predators would take their place. Removing the bass would mess up the food chain, and bass eat only a small proportion.

But, as we know, the CV farmers and their advocates keep looking for “solutions” to the Delta problem without admitting it’s the water.

Then today, in the bee, I read a letter to the editor, grrrr:

    Eliminate bass, save the salmon”

    Re “In state’s water wars, striped bass vilified as predators of native fish” (Insight, May 7): An April 19 report to the state Water Resources Control Board by Dr. Sean Hayes of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration discussed multiple stresses that impact salmon. Hayes’ study confirmed the results of 25 years of similar studies: As few as 3 percent of migrating salmon survive their Delta journey.

    Eliminating predatory bass and catfish won’t entirely solve problems in the Delta. Addressing hot spots in numerous areas where salmon numbers suffer their greatest losses should be the first focus of predator control, reducing effects of nonnative species in the Delta.

    Allowing unrestricted fishing for bass or other predators in those areas would reduce risk to endangered salmon. That’s a step in the right direction toward a healthier Delta for everyone.

    Mike Wade, Sacramento

Hmm, I thought. The Mike Wade I always see commenting on every Delta article is not from Sacramento. So I found an article from last month submitted to the Merced Sun-Star by Mike Wade, Modesto, Executive Director of the California Farm Water Coalition, a name I see often on rebuttal comments to any pro-Delta articles on the internet. The article, “What’s Eating the Salmon,”, had the same statements as the “other” Mike Wade’s LTE, opposite of what the Sac Bee article below states.

If you read in the article what Dr. Sean Hayes actually said, Mike Wade says the opposite. That’s just so cheeky. And such a ploy. Quote someone with great credentials, but twist what he says to make it sound like he said the opposite.

So I wrote my own LTE:

    Title: It’s not the bass, it’s the water

    Re: Eliminate bass, save the salmon (LTE May 18). The LTE submitted by Mike Wade, Sacramento, echoes a Merced Sun-Star article written last month by Mike Wade, Modesto, who is the Executive Director of the California Farm Water Coalition, the ongoing voice for farmers in the Central Valley.

    That bass are a culprit in the decline of salmon has been rejected by the Fish & Game and by most scientists. Blaming the bass is just a decoy in the water wars. After a contentious meeting in Sacramento four or five years ago, where a prominent Delta commercial bass fisherman was pushing the Legislature to reduce water exports in order to improve the Delta for all fish species, one of the Central Valley water representatives was overheard to say, “Wait until he sees what we do to his bass!” Shortly after that, Central Valley representatives started pushing legislation attacking the bass.

    The Delta problem is clear. The Delta needs more water flowing through it. The export levels increased significantly during the first decade of this century. The salmon and bass both declined as a result. Water flowing to the ocean isn’t “wasted,” as the farmers believe. It flushes out the Delta, taking the salmon with it to return to the ocean. It flushes out and cleanses the SF Bay. Increased exports and overplanting the Central Valley with orchards caused the demise of salmon, influx of invasive plant species, and lower water quality in the Delta. Other stressors exist, no doubt. But without enough fresh water, no other “improvements” can save the Delta.

    Jan McCleery, Discovery Bay

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