NORTHERN CALIFORNIA REPRESENTATIVES RESPOND TO SIGNIFICANT CUTS TO SALMON SEASON
Washington, DC – Yesterday, the Pacific Fisheries Management Council (PFMC), the Federal agency responsible for the management of West Coast salmon fisheries, released three options for California’s 2016 sport and commercial salmon fishing seasons. Each of those proposed options would cut the number of salmon fishing days for commercial fishing by more than 20 percent, with the most restrictive option for Fort Bragg cutting fishing days by 45 percent, representing a significant cut in this iconic and economically valuable fishery. In response to the news, congressional representatives from across the Bay-Delta region voiced concerns about the state of the salmon fishing industry and legislation that would further exacerbate salmon population declines, and urged their colleagues to instead pass comprehensive drought legislation that protects devastated Northern California salmon runs and the economic value they represent.
The options proposed by the PFMC include effort reductions that range from 20 percent from last year all the way to complete closures in some areas. The proposed plans are available for public review until early April, at which point a final salmon season will be determined. California’s salmon fishing industry represents an economic value of approximately $1.4 billion, making the dire announcement — especially the option that would entirely eliminate commercial fishing during the coming season — of significant concern to California’s economy and jobs in coastal communities. The PFMC’s announcement yesterday comes at a vulnerable moment for fishing fleets, with fishermen facing simultaneous crises in California crab fisheries and declines in the Klamath salmon fishery and the Bay-Delta salmon fishery.
Representatives Matsui, McNerney, DeSaulnier, and Thompson have all supported Congressman Huffman’s Drought Relief and Resilience Act, a range of short- and long-term solutions to stretch water supplies and build new clean water infrastructure, creating jobs without undermining environmental protections, preempting state laws, or redirecting impacts from one drought-stricken area to another. The legislation directs U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in consultation with state and federal agencies, to prepare a plan to address the impacts of drought on the salmon population.
“The regulations released by the Pacific Fisheries Management Council for the upcoming salmon fishing season confirm that five years of drought have been devastating for the health of the Delta and the critical species that depend on the estuary for their survival,” said Thompson. “We’re now faced with three options for a limited fishing season, each one more devastating than the last for a $1.4 billion industry that supports 23,000 jobs. This verdict will make painfully clear the importance of sound water management that doesn’t prioritize south of delta interests over an industry on the brink of collapse.”
“California’s salmon fishermen will unfortunately face further devastating losses and significant economic hardship this year, worsened by the constant push to divert more water from the Bay-Delta estuary,” said Rep. Huffman (CA-02). “Yesterday’s announcement confirms that this is not the time for Congress to weaken protections for salmon and their ecosystems. Unless we begin enacting both short and long-term solutions to our drought challenges, salmon fishermen will continue to pay the price. That’s why I am urging my colleagues to support my responsible drought legislation to achieve sustainable salmon runs and protect salmon fishing jobs, while building a more robust, resilient water supply for California.”
“Our work to protect and restore California’s fisheries is an important element in our overall effort to protect the watershed,” said Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-06). “As we consider a balanced approach to the drought crisis, we must protect our region’s ecosystem – including Northern California salmon runs.”
“The Pacific Fisheries Management Council report is another reminder that the drought and the resulting environmental degradation are having adverse effects on our West Coast salmon runs. We need to fight for solutions that don't make this problem worse and instead protect the livelihood of the farmers, fishermen, and families that depend on healthy salmon fisheries. We must work together to pass comprehensive legislation that provides drought relief without undermining crucial environmental laws and preserves these salmon runs for this critical industry,” said Rep. Jerry McNerney (CA-09).
“Californians are counting on us to provide comprehensive and sustainable solutions to increase our water supplies without harming California’s fishing industry. As a former member of the Delta Protection Commission, I understand the importance of salmon conservation which is vital to local industry and to our economy,” said Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11).
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