Hanky-Panky harms Klamath River Watershed
By John Menke
05/04/12 -- To help facilitate a yes on the Klamath River dams-removal decision, it appears California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service and USDI Bureau of Reclamation (BOR-Trinity River Restoration Program) have conspired to harm the functionality of the Klamath River Watershed fishery. BOR-approved late-summer pulse-flow actions have and continue to foment anger by coastal fishermen and enviros at irrigators.
The first pulse action caused the big fish die-off in 2002 by falsely triggering spawners to prematurely leave the Klamath River estuary when the water was too warm upstream of the Trinity River confluence. They tried again and nearly killed more returning spawning salmon in 2009 (warning was given by California Department of Water Resources Watermaster Joe Scott to me by phone alert--"they are going to kill a bunch more salmon John") and 2011 (Toz Soto, Yurok Fisheries, alerted us to stressed salmon following the BOR-approved pulse flow).
CDFG has and continues to maim hundreds of thousands of hatchery reared coho salmon and steelhead by maxillary clipping juveniles (since 1995) prior to release from Iron Gate and Lewiston hatcheries in violation of the US Supreme Court Iron Gate Dam Mitigation Order to rear fish un-maimed (CDFG take-permitted by NOAA/NMFS). One would think HSUS would disallow this treatment of animals since they influence CDFG policy.
CDFG unnecessarily killed returning coho salmon spawners, beyond those wild-reared as well as hatchery reared coho spawners needed for egg/sperm take, nearly 2,000 returning spawning coho salmon (1997-2004) that could have produced larger future low brood-year coho salmon runs, and larger coho salmon runs to the Shasta River.
CDFG have blocked and caused poor-choice tributary habitat-selection for returning spawner coho salmon by using spawner-unfriendly video censusing weirs especially in the Scott River when benign sonar weirs could be used (again CDFG take-permitted by NOAA/NMFS).
CDFG have reared and continue to rear Chinook salmon juveniles to near yearling if not post-yearling age causing predation of 0+ coho juveniles (remarkably this has been funded by coastal fishermen at both Iron Gate and Trinity hatcheries--no longer paid for at Trinity Hatchery according to Wade Sinnen--CDFG-Arcata, pers. comm.).
The National Research Council (2004) report on rare fishes of the Klamath River watershed led by Dr. Peter Moyle (UC Davis) identified residualized steelhead predation on coho salmon juveniles as the prime negative effect of Iron Gate and Lewiston hatcheries. Residualization is where reared fish stay in freshwater for extended periods of time following release as juveniles.
CDFG has seen fit since that report to rear more predators--in this case too-large/too-old Chinook juveniles that residualize just like steelhead below Iron Gate and Lewiston hatcheries. Adding to the steelhead residualization problem by raising more predatory Chinook when coho are Federally and State listed in inexcusable and certainly against the law!
Chinook should not be in freshwater at these older ages and sizes--Nature didn't intend that. I wonder if NOAA/NMFS has and continues to issue CDFG take permits for this extended size/age rearing practice?
Ocean fishermen fund this practice (pay for hatchery staff and fish food rations) because they think it produces higher Chinook populations when ,in fact, the Earth's decadal oscillation cycle is the primary driver of ocean current upwelling and salmon survival and growth in the ocean through food and baitfish for adult salmon in the ocean. So, even the ocean fishermen are being misled by agency staff agendas.
In effect, we have a 'conspiracy to oppress' rural agriculture going on in the Klamath River Watershed, led by agenda 21-motivated enviros and willing agency staffs.