January 21, 2019    Headline
Salmon News

2019 Salmon Season Outlook
The 2019 salmon season setting process is under way.
With the high numbers of two year old fish last season we do expect an above average but constrained season again this year. The reasons we could see a shortened season are that adult returns to the Central Valley rivers (Sac, American and Feather) have not meet minimum escapement goals for four straight years. After missing the minimum goal again in 2017 the ocean seasons were cut on average by 40% and in river sport anglers saw a halfling of their usual two fish limit in 2018. Despite the constraints minimum escapement goals of 150K fish were not meet.
In February the Pacific Fishery Management Council will release their three options for the coming year. I am expecting that these options will each include a shorter ocean season and a possible one adult / one jack limit in the rivers.
One of the MANY reasons that goals are not being met is reeds being dewatered and too warm of flows on the upper Sac that have wiped out as much as 98% of the upper Sac naturally produced fall run fish.
The winter run has dropped perilously low as well due to drought and losses of out migrating juvenile salmon due to predation and water diversion in the Delta.
To make matters MUCH MUCH worse is we have word that the Director of Fish and Wildlife, Chuck Bonham has signed off or at least indicated that he is willing to overlook and give the Feds at the Bureau of Reclamation a pass on State authority to overlook the salmon biological opinions to increase pumping in the Delta. The Feds can only increase pumping if they get a pass from the state and if they use the Sate Water Project pumps.
The main push of out migrating winter run salmon are just beginning to arrive in the Delta NOW. Increasing pumping at this time can serious impact the winter run and in turn impact our future seasons.
Yes I just wrote that "the DIRECTOR OF FISH AND WILDLIFE SIGNED OFF TO ALLOW INCREASED PUMPING AND THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE IS OK WITH THE TAKE OF ENDANGERED WINTER RUN SALMON. Unbelievable!  These pumping rates were put in place after years of litigation and are designed to protect salmon as they migrate towards saltwater.
I attended the December 12th State Water Resource Control meeting. After ten plus years of studies, meetings and trying to find ways to stop the decline of salmon the board adopted a flow rate of 40% of unimpaired flows on the tributaries on the San Joaquin river to support salmon and the ecology of the Delta and SF bay. I listened while Chuck tried to sell the SWRCB that volunteered agreements with water diverters was the way save the rivers. He delivered 30 minute presentation that was mostly snake oil. He tried to claim that volunteer agreements were a much better way to protect fish than the 40% unimpaired flows that the SWRCB ended up adopting later that day. (big ag in the Valley immediately sued the state)
The Golden Gate Salmon Association has been directly involved in these discussions and fighting hard to stop this tragedy.
Under "Captain Chuck" Bonham we have seen ever decreasing salmon runs. If you were to look at his background posted on the Cal Fish and Wildlife home page you would see a background with Trout Unlimited and conservation. The current Chuck doesn't give a damn about species protection much less rebuilding our most important fishery.
Again folks this is the DIRECTOR OF FISH AND WILDLIFE. If you fish for salmon or make your living from salmon as a guide, commercial troller, party boat captain or a business  you got hosed by the guy who's job it is to protect our public trust resources.
While Chuck's bio posted on the F&W website is a storied past his reputation within the department and with NGOs and conservation groups is a bit more telling.
Since Chuck took the helm at Cal F&W we have seen just one decent salmon year. That year was 2012 and he can't take credit for that as that was a result of decreased pumping from the south Delta in 2009. Since 2012 we have seen mostly constrained seasons and or well below average returns.
Even more telling of a Bureaucrat losing control is that many within F&W mid management speak that they have not seen Chuck in months and that there has been no communication or direction from him in months. Talk about demoralizing for all the great people that work for the department.
I always say you cant complain unless you have some solutions. In the short term I suggest that readers contact the Governor's office and express their views about the direction of F&W and ask him to NOT BE REAPPOINTED. Also contact your local Congressional representative or senator to telling them to tell Newsome "NO more Chuck"!
If we don't speak up in the next couple of days you can expect more failing runs in the future. This story will be updated in the coming days.


GGSA echoes State fish experts’ warning on proposed Sac Valley Reservoir

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The proposed Sites Reservoir Project in the Sacramento Valley would take water from the Sacramento River.

In comments filed with the California Water Commission, GGSA is echoing warnings from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife that far more water is needed in the Sacramento than levels the backers of the proposed Sites Reservoir are planning to divert at.  The reservoir, proposed for the western Sacramento Valley, plans to divert river water even at low flows when it’s needed by salmon.

The idea that water can be diverted from the Sacramento River during low flows doesn’t square with levels needed to keep salmon healthy according to state fish and wildlife officials.

Backers of the new giant reservoir say it will help heal the environment.   The southern California’s Metropolitan Water District say their investment in the reservoir would only makes sense if the Delta tunnels project to move it around the Delta is built, which many now consider doubtful.

After GGSA call state water agency finally agrees to pay for tagging hatchery fish


After hard advocacy by GGSA, the California Dept of Water Resources (DWR) agreed to pay to mark and tag Feather River Hatchery fall run baby salmon.  These fish have been adipose fin-clipped and tagged for over 15 years, providing an unbroken series of data on survival and straying.  Until now, DWR has never paid for this even though they are obligated to as part of required mitigation for operation of the Oroville dam.  The cost had been borne by the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife using emergency drought funds which are now dried up.  CDFW was unable to resolve the dispute with DWR until GGSA got involved and successfully made the case with higher ups in state and federal government that paying for tagging and clipping is part of DWR’s mitigation responsibility.

Brown Administration Prepares for Smaller One Tunnel Project; Restore the Delta Responds
Read at our website

This afternoon, environmental reporter Paul Rogers of the San Jose Mercury News published a story declaring that the Brown Administration is revising their plan for CA WaterFix—a $17 billion water conveyance system that would move freshwater flows in the Northern Delta to the south—opting for a smaller single tunnel instead.
The original plan for CA WaterFix featured two 40 foot high, 35 mile long tunnels with a capacity of 9,000 cubic feet per second, while the single tunnel could carry anywhere from 3,000-6,000 cubic feet per second. Paul Rogers reported that the reasons for scaling back to one tunnel include a lack of funding and political support.
Executive Director of environmental watchdog group Restore the Delta, Barbara Barrigan-Parrila said,
The Brown Administration's effort to scale back to a single tunnel project—a project that has not been evaluated, scoped, or discussed with Delta stakeholders—smacks of desperation. What are the impacts? How will it be operated?  And considering past statements made by Metropolitan Water District's Jeff Kightlinger, why would we believe that a second tunnel wouldn't be added later?
If this is the project, then we believe there must be a redo for the permit application at the State Water Resources Control Board because to date, nothing has been presented regarding the operation and construction of a single tunnel.
If a single tunnel is running regularly in the North Delta, there must be a re-examination of the impacts on the salmon and Delta smelt fisheries by state and federal fishery agencies


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