Commercial fishermen are as tough and determined as any group of people I’ve ever met. Up every morning before the sun, these working men and women spend day after day battling high winds, rough seas and the hit-or-miss nature of fishing itself, all to put food on our plates and make a hard-earned living.
As northwest regional director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen, I’m proud to represent these small- and medium-sized commercial fishing businesses in Crescent City and up and down the coast. PCFFA is always fighting to put commercial fishing families in the best position to succeed, and that’s why we support a free-flowing Klamath River and the many fisheries benefits that will come with it.
Like all businesses, our commercial fishermen need a good legal, regulatory and economic environment to thrive but our boats also need a good natural environment. The lowest taxes and smartest regulations in the country would mean nothing if our fisheries disappeared. And there is no doubt that Crescent City’s once abundant salmon fisheries have suffered enormous losses in recent years as direct impacts of the four fish-killing Klamath dams.
That’s why Klamath River dam removal and a free-flowing Klamath is a boon for the region and the people who depend on its fisheries. According to the recently released Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) issued by the California State Water Resources Control Board, an exhaustive, 1,800-page document that examines the impacts of the proposed project, dam removal would “…advance the long-term restoration of natural fish populations in the Klamath Basin, including having a significant beneficial effect on commercial fisheries and an associated significant beneficial economic impact on the coastal commercial fishing industry.”
That’s a long way of saying two important words resulting from Klamath dam removal: “More fish.”
The same report brings more good news for the Crescent City Harbor, which is a tremendous economic asset for the entire region and for my members. Although dam removal will unlock some sediment trapped in the reservoirs, Crescent City Harbor should not be affected, with the DEIR stating “…it is expected that the amount of sediment released during the year of drawdown and dam removal would be similar to that transported by the Klamath River to the Pacific Ocean in a year with average flow, much less than that transported by the Klamath River in a wet year….”
In other words, the Klamath River already naturally transports enormous amounts of sediment to the sea and dam removal will simply not make that much of a difference above and beyond the normal range of sediment transport conditions.
So, the only thing likely to be clogging the Crescent City Harbor after Klamath dam removal will be more fishing boats, as salmon populations increase and restored coastal salmon fisheries lead to bigger, more consistent, more valuable salmon catches putting a shot of adrenaline into the North Coast economy. Any way you look at it, that’s a win for the family commercial fishing businesses I represent and the communities where they live.
For Crescent City’s future, dam removal is a must. A free-flowing Klamath River will strengthen the fishing industry that is woven into every part of its history, economy and culture and carry that legacy into a prosperous future.
Glen Spain is the northwest regional director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), the largest organization of commercial fishing families on the West Coast. He has been PCFFA’s primary negotiator on Klamath salmon restoration issues since 1996. Spain can be reached at PCFFA’s Northwest Regional Office, P.O. Box 11170, Eugene OR 97440-3370, 541-689-2000 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org