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Fishermen, Congressional Leaders to Rally at Salmon Summit


by Dan Bacher

April 1, 2010 -- Fishermen and Congressional leaders will rally to demand action to rebuild the West's iconic salmon industry at the First Annual Salmon Summit on Thursday, April 1, from 10 am 2 pm at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco.
The summit will feature a hearing about the devastating costs of the closure of the last two salmon fishing seasons, spurred by record water exports from the California Delta, on families along 1,000 miles of Americas coast. It will provide a forum to discuss long-term solutions to better manage the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary, the backbone of fishing for Chinook salmon in California and Oregon.
This is the best opportunity in years for salmon fishermen and other supporters to join in a unified statement that we support salmon, salmon fishing and the water and habitat needs that will allow the stocks to rebuild, said Dick Pool, administrator of Water for Fish. This is our opportunity to demonstrate that salmon have a huge constituency in California and that we are not going to stand by while others take the water salmon need for their own profits.
The event will include a free seafood reception hosted by Scomas, Hayes Street Grill, Fish, Foreign Cinema, and Monterey Fish Market.
Congressmen George Miller (D-Concord), Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) and other state and federal officials will speak about what must be done to restore salmon. Recreational and commercial salmon fishermen from California and Oregon will tell their personal stories about how the decimation of the Sacramento's salmon has hurt them and their communities.
Business owners from both states will speak of their losses and those of neighboring businesses caused by the record low salmon numbers of the last several years. Representatives of local governments from Morro Bay to Newport, Oregon will report how the loss of salmon has devastated their communities. Representatives of sport fishing interests and the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) will round out those to testify.
Participants in the summit will discuss how future salmon fishing season closures can be avoided by urging Congress to recognize that salmon fisheries are economically vital to the West Coast. By upholding the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Central Valley Project Improvement Act and other laws that prevent excessive Delta water pumping from killing salmon, we can ensure that salmon have needed flows to survive and thrive.
The summit comes at a critical time for Central Valley salmon populations. The Sacramento River fall Chinook run, the driver of West Coast salmon fisheries, collapsed from nearly 800,000 in 2002 to only 39,530 in 2009. The 2009 run was less than one third of the 122,196 fish that federal biologists had forecasted.
Federally protected runs of winter and spring run chinook declined to less than 5,000 individuals each in 2009. The endangered winter Chinook salmon return in 2009 was estimated to be 4,483 adults and 54 jacks, while the spring Chinook run in 2009 totaled 4,506 fish.
Although ocean conditions have played a role in the collapse of all three salmon populations, no factor has figured more prominently in the population crash than massive water exports from the California Delta to corporate agribusiness and southern California. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on Friday, March 17 released a peer-review report that validates recent federal biological opinions and federal actions, particularly seasonal reductions in water pumping, to protect endangered Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta smelt and green sturgeon in the Bay-Delta Estuary.
We want to prevent another catastrophic salmon fishing closure like the one we endured over the last two years, emphasized Pool. We want robust salmon stocks that will support full sport and commercial salmon seasons. Salmon-dependent communities, jobs and families are at stake in the tug of war for California water, along with our priceless fishing heritage."
Rather than upholding existing laws that protect salmon and Delta fish, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Senator Diane Feinstein and corporate agribusiness are relentlessly pushing for the construction of a peripheral canal and the passage of a water bond that will likely lead to the extinction of Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations. Everybody who cares about the future of salmon and the people and businesses that depend upon them must work to stop the water grab by corporate agribusiness and southern California!
"We need to defeat the peripheral canal, keep water a public resource, fix aging Delta levees and keep clean and cool water in our rivers for the fish," summed up Mike Hudson, executive director of SalmonAid (http://www.salmonaid.org).
Pool urges you to let him know if you can participate in the summit so organizers can plan for the event. Log ontohttp://www.Water4Fish.org/salmonsummitand fill out the card. You can indicate if you wish to speak in the public session or you can also sign up at the door.
Event sponsors include the Coastside Fishing Club, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA), Earthjustice, Golden Gate Fishermens Association, NorCal Federation of Fly Fishers, Northern California Guides Association, Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermens Associations (PCFFA), SalmonAid, Salmon Water Now, Small Boat Commercial Salmon Fishermens Association, The Fish Sniffer magazine (http://www.fishsniffer.com), USAfishing.com, Water4Fish, Monterey Fish Market, The Fish Restaurant, Scomas, Hayes Street Grill and Foreign Cinema Restaurant.
For updates on the summit and videos about the campaign to restore salmon and the Delta, please visit:http://www.salmonwaternow.org. You can watch Salmon Water Now's newest video, "Californias Delta Challenge: The Heart of the Problem," on Vimeo or YouTube:
YouTube Part 1 of 2:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kYsTrYm7_c&fmt=18
YouTube Part 2 of 2:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4upkWLfkMgA&fmt=18
Salmon Summit Schedule:
10:00am 11:00 am fishermen rally and gathering
11:00am 11:30 am congressional remarks
11:30am 12:30 pm expert panels and seafood industry testimony
12:30pm 1:00 pm public comment
1:00pm 1:30 pm media availability with members of Congress and salmon fishermen
1:00pm 2:00 pm seafood reception
Visuals: A 22-foot blow up salmon, salmon fishing boats on the San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge and fishermen with signs and banners and B-roll will be available
Directions: Golden Gate Room at Fort Mason Center. Enter at the intersections of Buchanan St. and Marina Blvd. The Fort Mason Conference Center is along the water in San Francisco's Marina District, immediately east of the marina docks at Gas House Cove and adjacent to and just before Greens Restaurant (See Building A in attached map). Free public parking is available in the area or you can pay fee at Fort Mason. News media will receive a media pass to park for free near Building A.
Contact: For background information or to arrange advance interviews with salmon fishermen or others, please contact: Jennifer Witherspoon, 415-293-6067; jwitherspoon [at] edf.org