Press release from Senator Mike McGuire’s office:
California’s iconic salmon fishery, and the thousands of families who depend on the fishery for their livelihood, are in crisis. There has been an unprecedented collapse in California’s salmon population, tribal allocations are at an all-time low, and there’s a budget gap the administration is attempting to fix on the backs of California’s fishermen.
All of this and more will be discussed during a Senate and Assembly joint committee hearing, “Where Have All the Salmon Gone?” on May 24 at the State Capitol.
“The 2017 salmon season is anticipated to be one of the worst on record including predictions of the lowest return of Klamath River salmon in history. This collapse has had disastrous impacts on our fisheries, our commercial and recreational fishing industries and on tribes, whose commercial fisheries will be closed and subsistence and ceremonial fishing severely curtailed,” Senator Mike McGuire said. “At this hearing, we will focus on the impact of the drought, poor ocean conditions and diseases that have decimated the California salmon population.”
The entire Klamath River (and Trinity River) will be closed to recreational salmon fishing including catch and release. Tribal commercial fisheries will be closed and subsistence and ceremonial fishing curtailed providing less than a fish per 10 tribal members potentially triggering a health crisis.
In addition to the disastrous seasons for crab, salmon, urchins and sardines, which are the result of California’s historic drought and poor ocean conditions the last few years, the Department of Fish and Wildlife recently proposed an excessive increase in commercial fish landing taxes to augment the department’s budget – a topic that will be raised at next week’s fisheries hearing.
“Balancing a $20 million Fish and Wildlife budget shortfall on the shoulders of California’s struggling commercial fishing industry – with landing tax increases exceeding 10,000 percent – is unconscionable and we will fight this proposal. Frankly, it’s disturbing that California Fish and Wildlife Administration – after all of the feedback they have received from the fleet who are losing their boats, homes and struggling to make ends meet – is continuing to ram this damaging proposal through.”
The Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture hearing will be held Wednesday March 24 from 1 to 5 p.m. in Room 2040 of the State Capitol building and will be livestreamed at www.senate.ca.gov.
The hearing will be headlined by presentations from state agency leaders, researchers, and tribal, commercial and recreational fishing representatives, including Doug Obegi, Senior Attorney for the California’s Natural Resources Defense Council, Michael O’Farrell, Fisheries Research Biologist, NOAA Fisheries, Russell Perry, Research Fishery Biologist, USGS, Craig Tucker, Natural Resources Policy Advocate for the Karuk Tribe, Thomas O’Rourke, Chairman of the Yurok Tribe, Western Fisheries Research Center and Kevin Shaffer, Fisheries Branch Chief of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. A full list of speakers will be released next week.
Due to the extensive salmon closures, Senator McGuire and Assemblymember Jim Wood have called on Governor Brown to request a federal fishery disaster.