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Dan Bacher on the fisheries forum

Legislative Committee to Hold 36th Annual Fisheries Forum

by Dan Bacher, editor of the FishSniffer
March 25, 2009 -- Sacramento – The Joint Legislative Committee on Fisheries & Aquaculture, chaired by State Senator Patricia Wiggins (D – Santa Rosa), will hold the 36th Annual Fisheries Forum, entitled “State of the Fisheries – 2009," on Thursday, March 26, 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. The forum will take place in Room 4203 of the State Capitol as California's fish populations are in their greatest crisis ever, as evidenced by the collapse of Central Valley chinook salmon, delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish populations.
This year’s Forum brings together members of the fishing fleet, policy experts, state regulators and community members to engage with Legislators on urgent issues surrounding the critical nexus between stable fisheries and the economies that depend on them. The Forum will also discuss progress on implementing the state’s Marine Life Protection Act and other marine laws. 
The speakers will include Bill Kier, former chief consultant of the Citizens’ Advisory Committee on Salmon and Steelhead Trout, Dave Bitts and Zeke Grader of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Roger Thomas from the Golden Gate Fishermen’s Association, Tom Weseloh of California Trout, Jim Martin of the Mendocino County Fish and Game Commission and the Recreational Fishing Alliance, Kaitilin Gaffney from the Ocean Conservancy, Cindy Gustafson, Chair of the California Fish and Game Commission, Troy Fletcher of the Yurok Tribe and Neil Manji from the Department of Fish and Game.
“This year will be the second closed salmon season in a row, an unprecedented event,” said Senator Wiggins. “There are fishermen throughout the coast -- also sport fishermen, fish processors, fish marketers and restaurateurs -- whose livelihoods depend on what used to be normal, robust salmon runs. This salmon crisis, like our economic crisis, needs an active fix while we still have a resource left.” 
Comments from the public (3 minutes each) are scheduled from 4:40-5:00 p.m.
Senator Wiggins on March 10 unveiled a package of legislation designed to restore and protect California’s imperiled salmon population.
Senate Bill 539 directs the state Ocean Protection Council (OPC) to give the Legislature a report that ranks the solutions to reversing the alarming decline of salmon and steelhead populations and lists the costs to implement those actions. The OPC is the state arm that coordinates state agencies’ efforts to protect and conserve coastal and oceanic ecosystems. 
Senate Bill 670 prohibits the use of suction dredge mining equipment in rivers and streams that provide critical habitat to spawning salmon until the state Department of Fish and Game (DFG) completes its court-ordered overhaul of regulations governing the controversial recreational activity. Suction dredge mining, a recreational mining activity that disturbs streambeds, is heavily regulated in other states including Oregon. However, California suffers from surprisingly slack regulations 
Senate Bill 778 requires the state DFG to provide a thorough accounting of funds generated from commercial salmon fishing permits, known as “salmon stamps.” The self-taxation funds paid by fishermen are required to be spent on fisheries and habitat restoration. There is growing concern in the fishing industry that the money is not getting to top priority projects. SB 778 would incorporate measures, based on an audit, to strengthen the program and, with agreement from fishermen, will increase the price of the “stamp” in order to ramp up protection efforts during the ongoing salmon crisis. 
Wiggins said that with a second consecutive year-long ban on salmon fishing all but certain, “it’s imperative that the Legislature, along with the responsible state agencies, do all that we can to protect these invaluable fish populations. 
“Salmon are not just trophy and sport fish,” Wiggins added. “They form the backbone of California ecosystems, tribal cultures, local economies, a commercial fishing industry and a once-plentiful, wonderful food. 
“Their decline is not an anomaly – it is the sad result of a long-term trend that government and the public have been unable to stop. And, as last year’s no-catch season demonstrates, a blanket ban on fishing will not, by itself, reverse that trend. We must work together to give these magnificent fish a chance to recover.” 
Wiggins represents California’s large 2nd Senate District, which encompasses portions or all of Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Solano and Sonoma Counties. 
For more information, please contact David Miller, Press Secretary/Consultant, at 916-651-1897, or david.miller [at] sen.ca.gov
Here is the agenda for the forum: 
36th Annual Fisheries Forum 
State of the Fisheries – 2009 
State Capitol, Room 4203 
March 26, 2009 1:30 – 5:00 pm 
I) Introductions and Opening Remarks (1:30 – 1:45) 
Senator Patricia Wiggins, Chair Joint Committee on Fisheries & Aquaculture 
Remarks of Committee Members 
II) Purpose and History of the Forum (1:45 – 1:55) 
Bill Kier, Fishery Scientist / Former Chief Consultant, Citizens’ Advisory Committee on Salmon and Steelhead Trout 
III) Salmon – 2009 and Beyond 
A) 2009 Season/Resource and Future Status (1:55-2:20) 
Dave Bitts, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations 
Roger Thomas, Golden Gate Fishermen’s Association 
Paul Siri, Ocean Science Applications 
Jonathan Phinney, Ph.D., NOAA 
Marija Vojokovich, DFG 
B) Saving the Salmon/Saving the Fleet (2:20 – 2:35) 
1) Citizens’ Advisory Committee on Salmon and Steelhead Trout (CAC) 
Vivian Helliwell, Chair, CAC 
Neil Manji, DFG 
2) Commercial Salmon Stamp (2:35 – 2:50) 
Mike Ricketts, Chair, Salmon Stamp Committee 
Neil Manji, DFG 
3) Fish Passage (2:50 – 3:05) 
Tom Weseloh, California Trout 
Jay Norvell, Deputy Director for Division of Environmental analysis, CalTrans 
4) Legislative Opportunities and the National Fisheries Trust Fund (3:05-3:15) 
Zeke Grader, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations 
Break: 3:15-3:30 
IV) Marine Life Protection Act – Progress, Status and Reporting (3:30-4:00) 
Ken Wiseman, MLPA Initiative 
Cindy Gustafson, Chair, Fish and Game Commission 
Jim Martin, Mendocino County 
Kaitilin Gaffney, The Ocean Conservancy 
V) Fisheries and Fish Consumers (4:00-4:40) 
State of the Fisheries: Department of Fish and Game 
Native Americans: Troy Fletcher, Yurok Tribe 
Ocean Protection Council: Sam Schuchat, Coastal Conservancy 
Ocean Science Trust: Amber Mace, Ph.D. 
Aquaculture Committee: Devin Bartley, Ph.D. 
Fish markets: Paul Johnson, Monterey Fish 
Restaurants : Ken Belov, FISH Restaurant 
VI) Comments from the Public (3 minutes each) (4:40-5:00) 
Senator Patricia Wiggins, Chair 
Committee on Local Government 
Select Committee on California's Wine Industry 
Joint Committee on Fisheries & Aquaculture 
Tel: (916) 651-1897 
Fax: (916) 324-3036