Friday, May 28, 2010

Reactions to Obama's salmon plan

Buzz Ramsey, Fishing Legend, Yakima Bait Co., Granger, WA

Sportfishing and outdoor recreation represent and key pillar of the economy for local communities across Washington State and throughout the West. Salmon mean business and jobs for our region. With the re-release of an old Bush-era salmon plan for the Columbia and Snake Rivers, the Obama administration has dealt these communities another blow.

In addition to its failings on the science and the law, and the federal government's failure to reach out to salmon-dependent communities, the Obama administration's plan continues to ignore one fundamental reality: salmon need water. Federal agencies had an opportunity to embed a comprehensive multi-year plan - backed by independent scientists - to spill water at the dams to help migrating salmon. Instead, the administration has left the door open to severely limit water flow and spill every year. That means, year after year, the Northwest will be forced back into court to maintain a spill program that works. This seems hypocritical from federal agencies and an administration that continue expressing a need to get out of the courtroom.

All of this points to the need for oversight, and that can come from Senators in Pacific Salmon states, including Senators Murray and Cantwell here in Washington. We deserve a chance to sit down and hash out a comprehensive solution that works for salmon and our local communities.

Susan Berta, Co-Founder, Orca Network, Greenbank, WA

NOAA's current plan to restore endangered salmon in the Snake River conspicuously avoids dam removal, even though that's an essential step if we wish to even stabilize those critically important salmon runs. These salmon are essential for the survival of the also endangered Southern Resident orcas. Marine biologists have learned in the past few decades that there are multiple communities of orcas that each have their own social systems, mating patterns, vocalizations and diet.

In just the past few years scientists have found that Southern Resident orcas survive on Chinook salmon almost exclusively. Between 1995 and 2001 this clan of orcas declined by 20% to a precarious 78 individuals. The decline has been directly correlated with precipitous drops in Chinook salmon numbers during those years. Historically these orcas have depended on upper Columbia and Snake River Chinook for winter sustenance. Clearly, if salmon from the Snake River continue to decline as they have since the four dams were completed, the orcas will also decline.

Joel Kawahara, Commercial Salmon Troller, Quilcene, WA.

"The new Obama plan is nothing more than a big disappointment. It will do nothing to actually reverse the steep declines of salmon and begin to again meet the needs of fishermen or to re-build jobs lost. It essentially dismisses the sacrifices like reducing harvest and restoring habitat that our businesses and families have made to ensure that we aren't fishing for the last salmon. We have been here at the table; we're part of the solution, but we don't see federal agencies or dam operators doing their part. We all need to be working together, and this plan doesn't do that. It leans on fishermen, it restores some tributary habitat, but it does too little to reign in the biggest salmon harvester - the system of federal dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

Our industry is ready to sit down with others and work on a comprehensive solution that really works for everyone in the region. But this plan is not it. Honestly, this plan should be scuttled and the stakeholders of the region need to start it all over.


Ric Abbett, President, Northwest Steelhead and Salmon Conservation Society

The recently released Obama Administration plan to protect Columbia/Snake River salmon and steelhead is heavy on more studies, light on action and a bitter disappointment. In fact the rollback of the mandated spill over the dams shows there is no committment to reversing the declines of fish populations. A community supported approach that integrates the human component in ecosystem management promises hope for wild fish and the outdoor heritage for future generations. The federal gov't needs to recognize the potential of region stakeholders and states to work thru considerations to their satisfaction and support real science based reform.


Dustin Aherin, Citizens for Progress, Lewiston, Idaho

From the perspective of someone involved in facilitating a positive economic environment in the Lewiston and Clarkston Valley, this plan does not deliver much. It appears that the Obama Administration is attempting to kick this can down the road so that 10 years from now the next generation will have to cope with the same issues we are struggling with. The plan affects our aging levee's, sedimentation and infrastructure issues all of which make for an uncertain future. It provides no clarity and prevent s our communities from charting a secure, long-term course towards economic growth, independence and prosperity. It really is a shame to see so little coming out of an administration that promised so much.


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