CSPA's letter of support for AB 1806 to Senator Florez
July 26, 2008
Dean Florez State Capitol, Room 5061 Sacramento, CA 94248-0001
Re: Support for AB 1806 (Wolk) - Fish Rescue Plans & Mitigation
Dear Senator Florez:
The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance is a longstanding fishery conservation organization representing some twenty sportfishing organizations and interests across California. We are dedicated to the conservation and sustainable management of the public's fishery resources, and have a quarter of century of direct experience in protecting and helping to restore our state's fishery resources.
We ardently support AB 1806 and the requirement of full fishery mitigation by the Federal and State Water Projects. This is essential if we are to stop the horrendous decline of the fishery resources dependent on the Delta and its tributaries. Despite their obligations under state and federal environmental protection acts, neither of the projects completely mitigates for all of the losses of the fish killed by their project operations.
While this is not the only reason for these fishery declines dependent on the Delta, until mitigation for these impacts are accomplished, we will continue to see the estuary's fisheries fail to recover and become self-sustaining. This, in combination with other factors involved in the fisheries decline, costs the State's economy hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Over the past forty years losses are estimated at $8 billion in income not generated to our economy.
In addition, we now face a crisis with our fall-run salmon fishery. This year's salmon closure is estimated to cost some $250 million and the closure is likely to be extended next year. These are very grim economic facts unless we make a mid-course correction now.
The largest opposition to resolving this problem comes from the direct beneficiaries of the water project. The water districts do not want to pay their share of the bill for the damages done by project operations. Should they prevail, it will force fishing interests back to court to seek more legal remedies as was the case in the San Joaquin River litigation, the Biological Opinions on Delta smelt and winter-run salmon.
Our fisheries face grave conditions in the Delta and its tributaries, but the State Water Board lacks the authority to require the projects to comply with their mitigation obligations. Positive steps can be taken to turn this around, but the SWRCB requires the authorization in this bill.
Should your committee turn this legislation back, the result will be greater fishery declines that will cost our economy more money and continue to decrease the utilization of these once abundant resources by public and commercial fishing industry. We need your support to turn bad public policy into affirmative policy that starts the recovery our of fisheries while there is still time to bring them back.
It is critical that the mitigation process outlined in the bill to address the fishery losses not be amended. AB 1806 has passed the Assembly and the Senate policy committee because it would enable an open public process to determine the mitigation requirements and to equitably replace the millions of fish that have been destroyed.
Unfortunately, time has run out for our fisheries. Actions to help them recover are needed now. Please support this bill passage
John Beuttler Conservation Director