State of salmon

The best quip of the President’s State of the Union address: “… the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.”

Nice joke, good speech, but the laugh is a short-lived one for Californians, raising as the gag does the suggestion that in streamlining the way we manage salmon it would somehow be possible to tilt power from the agency that protects the fish when they migrate (Commerce) toward the agency that drains rivers of the fresh water that they need to breed (Interior).

Or vice versa.

This taxpayer for one is happy that Commerce is there to demand that the Endangered Species Act be invoked when salmon are imperiled by freshwater diversions to farms and cities. At the same time, this Californian is

Calls to California Legislature to save Delta salmon

Delta salmon. Photo: California Department of Water Resources

FOLLOWING Saturday’s editorial pointing to a tide of water bills about to surface in Sacramento, today the San Francisco Chronicle carries a guide to those bills along with calls to protect the Bay-Delta’s historic salmon fisheries.

Samples, links below along with a guide to the bills.

From “As the Delta goes, so go our salmon:”

“The estuary is dying. California has long viewed the delta as a massive reservoir it could endlessly plumb for agriculture and development. Water “wasting” to the sea is seen as a massive leak. In reality, the delta is an ecosystem – it is our Everglades, our Chesapeake Bay. An estuary’s lifeblood is its freshwater inflow mixing with saline tidal flows to create a rich, brackish water that nourishes salmon, crabs, sole, oysters and shrimp. As the estuary dies, so do California salmon.”

From “Limit

“Huge Signal” of Change from Columbia River Salmon

MAY 30, 2009. BONNEVILLE DAM  – Run of small salmon on the Columbia River baffles anglers, scientists, Seattle Times. ”Just looking at the Bonneville Dam count, it’s extraordinary,” says Brian Beckman, a National Marine Fisheries Service biologist in Seattle. “It’s just kind of jaw-dropping … There is a huge signal from the fish that something has changed.”…

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    Emily Green by e-mail at emily.green [at] mac.com
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