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Fisheries Protection Issues

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PCFFA works on many resource and water protection issues, including the following:

WATER REFORM

The water needs of fish are give short shrift under current western states water law and in federally and state managed irrigation systems. Water is life to fish — without water fish dead. Yet throughout the west coast, in almost every water basin, water has been overappropriated for human use at the expense of fish and wildlife needs. Protection and expansion of in-stream water rights for fish and wildlife is a must if fish are to survive and our industry to continue to have fish to harvest.

Many other groups are working on water policy reform in several states. These groups can be reached via the following links:

ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT REFORM

The fishing industry has often been singled out to bear an undue burden under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) to help save species which have been all but wiped out by onshore loss of habitat caused by others (such as the marbelled murrlet seabird). Yet when all other methods of protecting our fish have failed (as they have for salmon on both coasts) the ESA can be the only remaining tool to address the on-shore habitat loss problems which really are what are driving some of these stocks to the brink of extinction. The ESA — difficult as it sometimes is for our industry — is still far preferable to the total and permanent extinction of the very species we depend upon for our livelihoods.

Unfortunately, the ESA is sometimes the only tool the fishing industry has left to force needed changes in practices which kill fish wholesale. Without ESA-driven water reforms in the California Central Valley, the abundant central California chinook salmon returns of 1995 would have been impossible. Without ESA-driven hydropower reforms in the Columbia Rive,r nothing would ever be done to save salmon there. Without ESA-driven land use reforms elsewhere, many more salmon runs would already have become extinct than has already occurred, and there would then be much less hope of restoring these fish in the future.

Unfortunately, the ESA as it is now written is a very bumpy ride indeed for the fishing industry. Nor does it assure true “recovery” — the law as currently written only requires that species be kept from utter extinction. Maintaining a few “museum piece” salmon runs will not bring back the fishing industry nor feed our families.

Therefore PCFFA is working diligently toward fundamental reform of the ESA so that its use will be effective in achieving true recovery, it becomes more proactive rather than reactive, the whole process is more open, and its strong habitat protections are maintained.

We are working in Congress with the Endangered Species Act Coalition (click here), a group of more than 200 other scientific, religious and conservation organizations, to achieve this goal.

For PCFFA’s position statements on ESA reform, why we believe a strong and effective ESA is essential to preserve our industry, and what you can do to help us, click here:

There is no doubt that our industry is far better off if salmon runs never get so depressed that ESA protection is necessary. This means our industry must aggressively prevent and reverse the effects of land use practices which have already driven far too many salmon runs toward extinction. PCFFA’s Salmon Protection Program is highly effective in helping to keep these runs off the ESA list to begin with in the best way possible — by preventing their declines. For more information on PCFFA’s joint Salmon Protection Program with the Institute for Fisheries Resources, jump to the Institute’s Home Page by clicking on the following:

Go Directly to the Institute for Fisheries Resources Home Page