Feature Article: Feinstein Drought Bill

PFMC warns that Feinstein ‘drought relief’ bill would harm salmon runs

Western Outdoor NewsPublished: May 17, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO — A new Pacific Fisheries Management Council (PFMC) letter warns that a federal drought relief bill contains many provisions harmful to salmon. The Council sent the letter to Reps. Jared Huffman and Mike Thompson in response to their request for the Council’s analysis of the bill’s effects on salmon.

Among the key findings of the Council; the bill calls for taking water badly needed by salmon, and it will harm salmon runs and fishing jobs. Specifically, the PFMC letter states:

— The bill would “cause irreparable harm to California salmon and the commercial, recreational, and tribal fishing communities that depend on them.”

— “Maximizing supply” means reducing the water available to salmon.”

— The bill’s provisions are “particularly dangerous to salmon at a time when juvenile survival has ben disastrously low after two years of poor temperature and flow conditions in the rivers.”

— The bill “authorizes weaker protections for salmon” to allow increased pumping from the Delta.”

The PFMC has written similar analysis regarding legislation in the House (H.R. 2898 that would also harm salmon runs). Both of these bills would shift water from northern California, where it’s desperately needed to keep struggling salmon runs alive, to large agribusinesses growing almonds for export in the western San Joaquin Valley.

“The Pacific Fisheries Management Council says the Feinstein bill provides support for industrial irrigation but does not provide support for – or even mention-- the recreational, commercial, or tribal salmon fishing industry,” said John McManus, executive director of the Golden Gate Salmon Association. “The Council goes on to say the Feinstein bill does not mandate or even authorize stronger water management protections for salmon in response to the devastating drought impacts seen in the past several years. Salmon fishermen from California to Alaska are asking why Senator Feinstein’s bill is so one sided against salmon fishing families in favor of a few powerful growers in the western San Joaquin Valley.”

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