National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



The Klamath River dams may well come a tumblin' down, but it may be another decade before they do.

The New York Times reported this week on the release of a draft plan to remove four aging Klamath dams located in California and Oregon. And in releasing the plan, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called the Klamath "one of the most challenging water issues of our time."

True that, Mr. Secretary.

There are several stakeholders involved in the controversy surrounding the PacifiCorp.-owned dams. You've got power users who depend upon the electricity the dams generate. You've got farmers who need Klamath water to irrigate their fields. And you've got Native tribes, environmentalists and fishermen who say the river is critical to the health of Klamath salmon runs.

Those runs have suffered in a couple of ways. The dams are said to prevent upstream spawning. And in 2002, when the Interior Department diverted water to farms, the resulting low water levels caused a die-off of an estimated 30,000 Klamath fish, salmon advocates assert.
The draft plan is a good sign the dams will come down — eventually. According to the Times, Salazar has until March 2012 to decide whether the dams should be breached. And if he decides they should, dam removal won't begin until 2020.

In the meantime, troubled West Coast salmon stocks — and the fishermen battered by low stock numbers that in recent years have triggered two federal disaster declarations — will have to somehow find a way to hang tough for another decade.

Inside the Industry

NMFS recently released a draft action plan for fish discard and release mortality science, creating a list of actions that they hope can better inform fisheries.

We know that fishermen have to deal with bycatch by discarding or releasing unwanted catch overboard, but there is a data gap regarding how those fish survive.


A new study has identified a set of features common to all ocean ecosystems that provide a visual diagnosis of the health of the underwater environment coastal communities rely on.

Together, the features detail cumulative effects of threats -- such as overfishing, pollution, and invasive species,  allowing responders to act faster to increase ocean resiliency and sustainability.

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