News Drought over? Not for salmon

News Drought over? Not for salmon

by John McManus

Dear Reporter
If you're reporting on the news that US Drought Monitoring data is showing that many California's counties are out of drought OR the governor' emergency declaration for 13 counties due to too much rain or snow, consider broadening your story by including elements breaking the other way.  I'm referring to news from the state yesterday that we're looking at such a poor salmon return last year that we are likely to see no ocean and inland salmon fishing allowed in California in 2023 for only the second time in history (fishing was closed in 2008 and 2009).  This comes as the governor used his emergency drought declaration authority on Feb. 13 to waive water rules designed to protect this year's baby salmon as they attempt to survive out migration from the Central Valley, through the Delta and Bay and to the ocean.  
So while we're blessed with rain and plentiful snow, reservoirs are filling, and a robust snowpack promises more water for those same reservoirs soon, Gavin Newsom has abandoned the state's salmon fishery and left many of the tens of thousands of Californians who make their living on salmon frightened over how they'll pay the bills this year.  He cut needed flows to deliver this year's baby salmon to the ocean in half during February. 
This is happening while state and federal water managers are telling many of their big agricultural water districts to expect to see 100% of their annual water allocation.  Gavin Newsom is continuing the environmentally harmful water rules put in place by former President Donald Trump which are wiping out California's native salmon runs.  This is harming working families across the state that rely on salmon either to pay the bills or to feed the family.  Why is something of a mystery.  The fact that over 300,000 acres of ultra thirsty almond orchards have been planted since Newsom became governor (during a drought), might provide insight. 
The next shoe to drop will likely be next week when the Pacific Fisheries Management Council reviews the poor state of affairs for salmon in California and decides whether to propose closing salmon fishing for this year or not.  We'll provide updates as events warrant.  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.  Thanks. 
John McManus
President, Golden State Salmon Association

GGSA president John McManus is a long-time salmon fisherman and salmon advocate. He comes from a varied background that includes ten years of commercial salmon fishing in southeast Alaska, 15 years producing news for CNN and more recently, 11 years doing publicity and organizing for the public interest environmental law firm Earthjustice. Work at Earthjustice included organizing and publicity supporting restored salmon fisheries in the Columbia, Klamath and Sacramento rivers. 

A San Francisco native, Muni Pier and Lake Merced were the places where he first learned to tie a fishing line, bait a hook, and cast. He’s a long time member of the Coastside Fishing Club and keeps a boat part of the year in Half Moon Bay. 

From the 1970s on he spent a lot of time in the north coast salmon communities of Bodega Bay, Pt. Arena, Fort Bragg and Eureka. As salmon runs declined in the 1990’s, he got a front row seat to the demise of these communities, something that fuels his advocacy for salmon and salmon communities to this day. 

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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