Tribal leaders, fisheries biologists and conservationists will speak about the collapse of the Klamath River salmon fishery and a proposed commercial fish landing tax increase before a state Senate and Assembly joint committee hearing next week.
The hearing, “Where Have All the Salmon Gone?” will be held Wednesday before The Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture at the state Capitol.
It will focus on the impacts the drought, poor ocean conditions and disease have had on California salmon and comes after state Sen. Mike McGuire and Assemblyman Jim Wood called on Gov. Jerry Brown to issue a disaster declaration for the fishery, according to a press release from McGuire’s office.
The entire Klamath River as well as the Trinity River will be closed to recreational salmon fishing, including catch and release. Recreational and commercial ocean fishing for Klamath River fall chinook has also been canceled due to poor returns.
The Yurok Tribe canceled its commercial harvest of Klamath River chinook and coho salmon for the second year in a row. This year’s allocation of 650 fish, set by the Pacific Fishery Management Council, is the lowest on record. It’s a dramatic decrease from last year’s allocation, which at about 6,000, is the now the second-lowest on record.
Yurok Tribal Chairman Thomas O’Rourke is listed as one of the speakers at the hearing, according to the press release.
The Karuk Tribe also placed unprecedented restrictions on its subsistence fishery for the first time. It will allow the harvest of 200 chinook salmon for subsistence and ceremonial purposes in the rapids below Ishi Pishi Falls on the Klamath River. Craig Tucker, the Karuk Tribe’s natural resources policy advocate, will speak at next week’s hearing.
Meanwhile, despite facing disastrous seasons for salmon, crab, urchins and sardines, Brown proposes increasing commercial landing fees statewide by $12.4 million, according to his 2017-18 budget summary. Brown proposes to increase the landing fees as a way of offsetting a $20 million deficit in the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s budget.
“Frankly, it’s disturbing that California Fish and Wildlife Administration — after all of the feedback they have received from the fleet who are losing their boats, homes and struggling to make ends meet — is continuing to ram this damaging proposal through,” McGuire stated.
Wood also opposed the proposed landing fee increase, which comes in the wake of a domoic acid bloom that halted Dungeness crabbing on most of the North Coast last year and prompted the U.S. Secretary of commerce to declare the 2015-16 season a disaster.
Speakers at The Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture hearing also include Doug Obegi, senior attorney for the California’s Natural Resources Defense Council, Michael O’Farrell, NOAA Fisheries research biologist, Russell Perry, USGS research fisheries biologist and Kevin Shaffer, fisheries branch chief of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture hearing will be held 1 p.m.-5 p.m. in Room 2040 of the Capitol building in Sacramento. The hearing will also be livestreamed at www.senate.ca.gov.