How To Protect the Salmon


A May 29th LA Times article talks about a recent report findings: “The Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers historically supported up to a million Chinook salmon a year. Now we’re nowhere close to that.” And ominously predicts that “three-fourths of California’s trout, steelhead and salmon species will become extinct in the next 100 years. Within 50 years, nearly half will die off.”


What’s to blame for that fact that where once there were millions of fish, now we’re counting thousands?

Sure, there’s blame from the past projects building levees and dams. But those serve a purpose in today’s world for reclaiming fertile Delta farmland and storing water for thirsty cities. It’s not likely the State will want to flood fertile farmlands or blow up city reservoirs (although environmentalists would be happier). Those did cause fish decline in the 1900s. But the fish were still surviving, even improving in the late 80s/early 90s and commercial fishermen still had good fishing seasons each year.

It’s what has been happening since the late 90s that should raise your ire and keep you up at night. Today,Bthe blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the excessive water diversions for irrigating orchards in the Central Valley.

Agriculture interests scream that government wastes water by letting it flow to the sea. But if water doesn’t flow to the sea, neither do salmon and steelhead. And that kills the coastal fishing industry.

What can be done?

  • Start by not making things worse by protecting what’s left of our best fish waters.
  • Try to restore waters that were lost generations ago, such as flood plains and the Tulare Lake Basin. Flooded rice fields, where fish can eat themselves silly, now are helping with that.
  • Tear down useless dams like Matilija. And provide passage around useful dams.
  • Most important: Get political leaders — not just wildlife managers — to give a rip.

You can tell a fisherman wrote the article. He quotes the old Babylonian proverb: “The gods do not deduct from man’s allotted span the hours spent in fishing.”

And then adds: “But there need to be fish to catch.”

May 29, 2017 LA Times Article: “Here’s why we should think about protecting California fish”

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