Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Friday, 02 April 2010
California's San Joaquin Valley water battle heated up this week when fishermen and politicians gathered Thursday at the Salmon Summit in San Francisco to urge a change in Central Valley water policy.
It seems like it might take a full-on blaze to convince locals and politicians to find a solution to the region's water problem.
Two consecutive years without a salmon season has pushed local fisherman to fight for the water that once flowed into the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta but has long been redirected to irrigate farmland.
Salmon fisherman certainly have reason to believe the diverted water supply has depleted their own livelihood. In 2002, 800,000 salmon swam through the delta. But by last year, that number had dwindled to 39,000, according to today's article in the San Francisco Chronicle.
However, representatives of the farmers say they have cut back their water use as required since a 2007 court ruling, and the salmon population is still not returning.
It's a shame for the American fisherman to be pitted against American farmers for resources. Both industries certainly are beleaguered in this country.
Ultimately, there's not enough of this precious resource for the types of crops being grown as well as a robust chinook population. Our federal government has shown that when fish populations are down, they will do anything (including slashing and burning jobs) to bring them back.
And yet, when it comes to the salmon population in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, it has taken hordes of fishermen to make the case for bringing the local resources closer to their natural state.
Sadly, as has also been the case with waterfront development in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, the feds have a tendency to choose industry over fish, unless that industry is fishing.
Here's hoping the loud and proud voices of fishermen will finally be heard and heeded.
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