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Fishery Groups Intervene in Striped Bass Lawsuit—

Posted by Ken Jones (Skipper - Posts: 11990)
on May-20-08 5:08pm

California Sportfishing Protection Alliance
California Striped Bass Association
Northern California Council – Federation of Fly Fishers (NCCFFF)

Press Release
For immediate release:
20 May 2008

Fishery Groups Intervene in Striped Bass Lawsuit

(Stockton, CA) The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA),California Striped Bass Association (CSBA) and the Northern California Council of the Federation of Fly Fishers (NCCFFF) today intervened in the lawsuit filed by the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta et al against the California Department of Fish and Game and Fish and Game Commission (hereinafter DFG).

The Coalition is largely comprised of Kern County water agencies. That 29 January 2008 lawsuit accuses the DFG of threatening the existence of endangered salmon and Delta smelt through DFG’s striped bass management program.It alleges that striped bass prey on salmon, steelhead and Delta smelt and that predation has illegally contributed to the catastrophic crash of pelagic and salmonid species populations over the last five years. It also alleges fishing regulations established by the Fish and Game Commission results in the take of listed species by striped bass.

The CSPA, CSBA and NCCFFF intervention disputes the Coalition’s
spurious claims and notes that striped bass populations have plunged to historically low levels over the same period. Resource agency scientific staff maintain that the principal causes of fishery collapse in the Delta are attributed to significantly increased and unsustainable levels water exports, discharges of agricultural,
industrial and municipal pollutants and recently introduced species
that have changed the composition of the aquatic food web.

The Coalition’s lawsuit is simply an outrageous and transparent
effort to divert attention from the real cause of the Delta’s decline and blame the victims, instead of the perpetrators, said CSPA Executive Director Bill Jennings.

Striped bass have coexisted with salmon and smelt in the Delta estuary
for more than a hundred years. The dramatic almost 30% increase in the amount of water exported in recent years is the one clear culprit that has led to population crashes of numerous species; including salmon, steelhead, striped bass,Delta smelt, longfin smelt, splittail, threadfin shad, among others he said.

At certain times, as much as 65% of Delta inflow is exported to Central Valley agriculture and to southern California via powerful pumps at the state and federal project facilities. These massive pumps cause reverse flows,kill huge numbers of fish and suck up much of the aquatic food supply. Water agencies have refused to pay for state-of-the-art fish screens that were required in the 2000 CalFed Record of Decision as mitigation for exporting water. Some of the largest annual export levels in history occurred in 2003 (6.3 million acre feet [MAF]), 2004 (6.1 MAF), 2005 (6.5 MAF and 2006 (6.3 MAF). Exports averaged 4.6 MAF annually between 1990 and 1999 and increased to an average of 6 MAF between 2000 and 2007, a rise of almost 30%. Much of the increased pumping occurred during critical periods for Delta smelt survival.

Striped bass are a marvelous sport fish and was considered the premier
sport fishery of the Bay/Delta estuary prior to its catastrophic decline from 3.5 million adult fish down to 750,000 today. Studies of population abundance do not demonstrate that striped bass pose a population level threat to salmon or Delta smelt. Indeed, they show that striped bass, salmon and smelt populations rise and fall in tandem to common threats, said Cliff Rich, State Board President
of the CSBA. Much of the predation that does occur can be attributed
to man made causes due to the way the Department of Water Resources configured the state project export facilities which created a concentrated predation area in Clifton Court Forebay. That problem could be significantly remedied if the water agencies, including Coalition members, complied with requirements to install new
screening facilities, he observed.

The sport fishing industry in California is a major economic asset for
the state, amounting to over 5 billion dollars each year. The Bay/Delta sports fishery has been estimated to be worth at least 1.5 billion dollars per year. By contrast, the members of the Coalition that have sued DFG and the Commission are farmers and industrial-agricultural corporations receiving heavily subsidized
water, and in some cases, heavily subsidized drainage services for heavily subsidized non-native and non-food crops that add little to the nation’s food supply in relation to the detriment to the environment and economy of the Bay/Delta estuary.

“It is absurd to suggest that we eliminate a highly valued sports
fishery that has coexisted with other fish in the Delta for more than 100 years. We recognize that California has multiple water needs, and we recommend that the state follow it's own California Water Plan Up-Date, and seriously follow its recommendations on conservation, reclamation, ground water banking and other strategies,” said Dr.
Mark Rockwell of the Northern California Council, Federation of Fly
Fishers.

Additionally, Dr. Rockwell said, "nearly 2 million acre feet of
additional water could be available if drainage impaired lands in the west San Joaquin valley were retired. This act alone would reduce toxins filtering into the Delta, and reduce the need to divert this water from the system. The fisheries and other wildlife in the Delta cannot tolerate the high rates of water diversions now in
effect."

The South Delta Water Agency and Central Delta Water Agency have also
filed for intervention in the lawsuit refuting the Coalition’s allegations. Their intervention and our intervention will be considered by Judge Oliver Wanger in Fresno on 14 July 2008, along with a motion by State of California to dismiss the lawsuit
because of a lack of standing by the plaintiffs.

____________
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Current thread:
Fishery Groups Intervene in Striped Bass Lawsuit—   Ken Jones - May-20-08 5:08pm
Re: Fishery Groups Intervene in Striped Bass Lawsu   Northern Boy - May-20-08 7:54pm
Re: Fishery Groups Intervene in Striped Bass Lawsu   gyozadude - May-21-08 9:15am
Good Consolidation Here   songslinger - May-21-08 10:05am
Aha!   Northern Boy - May-22-08 10:29am


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