Help Save Salmon and Salmon Fishing Jobs – Urge the State Water Board to Leave Enough Water to Protect Our Rivers, the Bay and Salmon

Photo Credit: Courtesy of GGSA

by GGSA Staff
2-1-2021

On Tuesday the only state agency with the power to rebalance water diversions needed to restore salmon runs meets to look at the year ahead.  This agency, the State Water Board, has stalled instead of doing the hard work needed to stem the loss of our main Central Valley salmon runs.  We're trying to get a critical mass of people to attend this meeting (it's virtual, you can do it from your phone or home computer) and tell the State Water Board to do the job they're obligated to do.  
 
In fact, state law says the State Water Board is supposed to review water diversions every three years to make sure the environment isn't getting hammered.  They haven't done it in 25 years although they got close two years ago.  At that time they ordered the diverters on the three big tributaries of the San Joaquin River to reduce diversions in order to restore salmon and much needed outflow through the Delta and Bay.  Incoming governor Gavin Newsom asked the State Board to delay enforcement of the new standards, which it did.  So here we sit, salmon runs and other wildlife fading while politicians stall for more time.  
 
On Tuesday, join us in telling the State Water Board that time is up.  While they've been fiddling, six native fish species, including winter and spring run salmon, have gotten federal protection under the state and federal Endangered Species Acts.  That means they're disappearing.  Tell the State Water Board to end the stalling and restore needed flows to Central Valley rivers, the Delta and the Bay.  Thanks.  Meeting Time:  The meeting will be held on: Tuesday, Feburary 2, 9:00 AM.  The Board has not put this issue on their agenda for two years.  So we will comment during the public forum at the start of the meeting.
 
How to Join:   You can join the meeting by video conference call at this link:  https://www.youtube.com/user/BoardWebSupport/ or https://video.calepa.ca.gov/
 
Instructions about how to testify can be found here: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/board_info/remote_meeting/
 
Talking Points:  Here are some suggested talking points. 
 

  • I urge you to restart the State Board process to set and implement Bay-Delta flow standards to restore Central Valley rivers and our salmon runs.  It is time for you to do your job.
  • The salmon fishing industry was shut down in 2008-2009 because of collapsing Bay-Delta salmon runs.  Salmon jobs and salmon runs have still not recovered from that disaster.  More water in Central Valley rivers and the Delta are needed to restore healthy salmon runs and salmon fishing jobs.  
  • The science shows that inadequate flow standards, leaving too little water in rives and the Delta, are the cause of the collapse of Bay-Delta fish species.
  • The State Board is the only agency with the authority and legal responsibility to provide enough water flow in our rivers to keep the fall run and our salmon fishing industry healthy.
  • The current flow standards are 25 years old.   Those standards have failed.
  • Today is Groundhog Day - and it feels like it.  The Board keeps delaying improving flows in our salmon rivers.  
  • Feel free to tell a story about your personal experience on these issues. 

 
Background:  The State Board is the only agency with the authority to require adequate flows to protect all Bay-Delta Species, including commercially important salmon runs.  The current flow standards were adopted in 1995 – more than a quarter century ago. Since then, the Bay-Delta ecosystem and the salmon fishing industry have suffered one crisis after another.  Six species are now protected under the state and federal Endangered Species Acts, including winter run Chinook salmon, spring run Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead.  Toxic algae blooms are a growing public health threat in the Delta. 
 
An overwhelming amount of scientific work demonstrates that the Bay-Delta’s environmental problems are driven primarily by a lack of freshwater flow.  On rivers like the Tuolumne River, in dry years, more than 90% of natural flow is diverted. And two of the largest water projects on the planet divert millions of acre feet of water from the Delta annually.
 
In December of 2018, the State Board set new standards to require a significant increase in flows on the San Joaquin River and its tributary rivers.  However, at the request of Governor Newsom, the Board has delayed implemented those standards for two years.  The Newsom Administration has urged the State Board to delay the process to allow time for negotiations to reach a “voluntary agreement” in which water users would agree to provide water flows and habitat improvements.  These negotiations have failed.  Yet the Board continues to delay action.   
 
Questions?  If you have questions, please contact Barry Nelson with the Golden State Salmon Association at 510 340 1685, or [email protected].  


The Golden Gate Salmon Association is a coalition of salmon advocates that includes commercial and recreational salmon fisherman, businesses, restaurants, a native tribe, environmentalists, elected officials, families and communities that rely on salmon. 

GGSA’s mission is to restore California salmon for their economic, recreational, commercial, environmental, cultural and health values.

Currently, California’s salmon industry is valued at $1.4 billion in economic activity annually in a regular season and about half that much in economic activity and jobs again in Oregon. The industry employs tens of thousands of people from Santa Barbara to northern Oregon. This is a huge economic bloc made up of commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen (fresh and salt water), fish processors, marinas, coastal communities, equipment manufacturers, the hotel and food industry, tribes, and the salmon fishing industry at large.



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