Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
FYI-PCFFA Memo on
Klamath/DC Trip 6/12/06 from Zeke Grader
ALL: Below are the notes of the meetings I had on the Klamath in DC this past week and some suggested follow-up. I was back for the Marine Fish Conservation Network (MFCN) membership meeting on 6 June and two days of lobbying on Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization. Between the MSA lobbying (including meeting with Environmental Defense to see if it would be possible to develop a common position on IFQs within the LAPPs language – i.e., strong national standards – see at end of memo), I was able to do some work related to Klamath disaster assistance and restoration. Fortunately the number of hill visits they had scheduled for me were not that many and the Network has been supportive of our efforts to try to fix the Klamath problem. In addition to MSA reauthorization, I was able to talk briefly about the Klamath in meetings with aides to Representatives Baca, Cardoza and Matsui, in addition to a conversation that became all Klamath with Congressman Herger’s office.
I didn’t get a chance this time to visit that many of the offices that have always been supportive (e.g., Pelosi, Miller, Farr, Eshoo, Woolsey, Capps, etc.) but did get a chance at the Fish Fest reception on Thursday night to speak with Congressman Farr and his aide, Dr. Letise Houser, Congressman DeFazio, Lara Levison with Minority Leader Pelosi’s office, as well as Congressman Wu’s aide, Mary Cunningham
I also did not get a chance to attend the Senate Subcommittee on Ocean Policy hearing on the Administration’s aquaculture bill, but in talking with Jeff Rosato in Senator Boxer’s office, as well as Marianne Cufone (who gave testimony for the Institute for Fisheries Resources and others) and Dale Kelley, it sounded as if the hearing went well with good testimony from Marianne, Tim Eichenberg (TOC) and others, and strong statements from Senators Stevens and Boxer. Senator Stevens suggested the bill be subject to the regional fishery councils and Senator Boxer suggested the Administration adopt strong standards along the line of California’s recently enacted legislation, SB 201 (which is in addition to the state’s existing ban on ocean aquaculture of salmon, exotic species and genetically-engineered organisms).
The meetings I had Wednesday and Thursday followed a conference call held by Governor Schwarzenegger’s office on Tuesday evening announcing his disaster declaration (a follow-up call was held on Wednesday) and a quick meeting with Jonathan Birdsong in Congressman Thompson’s office to discuss the status of the efforts in DC for disaster relief and for addressing the problems in the Klamath prior to going out to Silver Spring to meet with Bill Hogarth.
1) Meeting with Dr. Bill Hogarth, National Marine Fisheries Service – 7 June 2006
This is a meeting I requested and was held at NMFS headquarters in Silver Spring at 1:00 that afternoon. The request was for NMFS’ action in three areas related to the salmon fishery and the Klamath River:
a) Disaster Declaration
b) California State Waters Fishery
c) Development of an Action Plan for Saving Klamath Fish
Disaster Declaration: Since both the Governors of California and Oregon have declared a disaster for the salmon fishery, I asked that NMFS (Secretary of Commerce) expedite a similar declaration immediately, given there is now bi-state and bi-partisan support for such a declaration. It was pointed out that between the season structure that was given the fleet and the actual results from the early fishery that there was indeed a “fishery failure.” Dr. Hogarth said he would be talking to OMB at 3:00 that day and would know something more after that. I pointed out that there should be no further delays, the first request for preparing for such a disaster declaration was made in a 14 July 2004 PCFFA letter to the President (when it became evident there was a collapse at hand of Klamath fall-run chinook). NMFS promised action on a declaration at a Congressional briefing in March but they have yet to act. While NMFS is claiming it has to follow process, there is, in fact, no set process for making disaster declarations under Magnuson and it took them only three days to declare a disaster for the New England shellfish fishery.
I also asked that NMFS immediately write Congressman Jerry Lewis, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, to request inclusion of disaster relief for the west coast salmon fishery in the upcoming CJS supplemental appropriations bill. Lewis had planned to have something out that Friday, so a letter from NMFS was needed right away.
I received no commitments on either request other than he would discuss it on the 3 pm call with OMB and others. I saw Dr. Hogarth that evening at the NOAA Fish Fry and he did not indicate what decision was made. He left the following day for a two week IWC [International Whaling Commission] conference in the Caribbean with no indication of action on anything I requester or who in the agency would be acting for him in his absence.
Suggested Follow-up: Press NOAA’s Tim Keeney for the disaster declaration and suggest the agency notify Chairman Lewis on the need to include funds for such relief in the upcoming CJS appropriations bill.
California State Waters Fishery. I asked Dr. Hogarth for NMFS’ support of any action by California to open its state waters during part or all of the June-July closed period. The combination of
a) lowered than predicted landings at the beginning of the season;
b) the 75-fish trip limit that was imposed on top of the modeled impacts for Klamath escapement; and
c) the fact that Klamath contact rates appear much less nearer shore (as indicated in the reported low impact of recreational fishing on those stocks than that of the commercial fleet),
coupled with a DNA sampling program to determine what, if any, Klamath fish were being taken (if there were impacts the state waters fishery would be closed), would provide adequate safeguards against the commercial fleet closely approaching or exceeding its allowed take of Klamath fall chinook.
Dr. Hogarth assured me NMFS was not threatening California Fish & Game with any punitive action if state waters were opened and that he had been in discussions with Rod McInnis (SW Regional Director) and Dr. Bill Fox (Director of NMFS Southwest Laboratory) about the genetic testing and its applicability.
Suggested Follow-up: Press Tim Keeney (or Jim Lecky) for an immediate commitment to support, through NMFS’ Santa Cruz Laboratory, DNA sampling of the commercial catch, including any state waters fishery, to determine any Klamath chinook contacts.
Action Plan for the Klamath. Finally, I stressed in the meeting with Dr. Hogarth the need for an immediate action plan on the Klamath. The on-going FERC relicensing negotiations for the four lower Klamath River dams (i.e., their removal) are promising, but even under the most optimistic scenario, dam removal is a good decade away. There are a number of fishery related projects taking place on the Klamath, most of them good, but there is no overall restoration plan, including a prioritization of actions needed, nor are there contingency plans in place for:
a) preventing or addressing an outbreak of the parasite infestations that result in fish die-offs;
b) dealing with poor water quality in the mainstem from Irongate releases; or
b) providing water for necessary fish flows and meeting the needs for farmers upstream in the event of another dry year.
He indicated it was a good idea, but gave me no commitment.
Suggested Follow-up: Press Tim Keeney for NOAA to sponsor (or co-sponsor) a meeting within the month (either Eureka/Arcata or Yreka) to include the three federal agencies, the Resources Agency/Department of Fish & Game, the three tribes, and representatives from the commercial and recreational fisheries, in-basin agriculture interests and representatives from the Oregon Governor’s office to:
a) provide a status review of current projects (including funding and staffing needs, such as the Fish Health Unit),
b) provide for continuing fish and water quality monitoring;
c) develop contingency plans (e.g., in the event of another parasite infestation, another dry year(s));
d) review fish tagging and tracking programs and possibilities for incorporating new technologies;
e) prioritize actions; and
f) assure there is a plan in place for the interim (at least until the dams are removed) to protect against further fish die-offs, rebuild salmon populations, and provide for the maximum fishing possible consistent with fish stock rebuilding (e.g., developing methods to avoid Klamath contacts).
2) Meeting with Jason Peltier, Department of Interior, 8 June 2006
The meeting I held with Jason followed one he had earlier in March, asking for Department of Interior help in providing some leadership (e.g., such as USFWS’ Steve Thompson has done in the FERC Klamath negotiations) to get a plan in place. Given the lack of action or any leadership over at Commerce, Interior may have to take the lead here. I basically outlined what I saw as the need for an immediate meeting with all of the concerned parties the same as I had the day before with Dr. Hogarth. Jason has sounded supportive and I indicated this is not difficult it just takes a little initiative and leadership. The development of an interim plan, for example, is not something that requires an RFP, thousands of dollars, an independent consulting firm and a year, but probably could be developed by the interested parties in a day over the table. Jason has already briefed Secretary Kempthorne on the Klamath and said he would discuss it further with him.
Suggested Follow-up: Talk with Jason further to see if there is a way for Interior to take the lead for the federal government in working with all of the parties to develop a plan for the river, including contingency plans, interim protections and stock rebuilding, as well as the long-term. This would be a great opportunity for Secretary Kempthorne to exercise leadership bringing all the parties together to work to restore the fish, the fisheries and the river while providing stability and certainty for farmers in the basin. That’s the way to “stop the finger pointing.”
3) Meeting With Senator Boxer and Wyden’s Offices, 8 June 2006
Senators Wyden and Boxer placed a “hold” on the Senate reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act earlier last unless the salmon disaster issue was addressed. They have developed language to include a disaster declaration and some aid for the Klamath, but this has not been signed off on yet by Senator Stevens so the hold remains in place. This action helps to highlight the problem here on the west coast. This action by itself, however, could be problematic if the MSA reauthorization does not move ahead this year, particularly since the House bill is controversial.
Suggested Follow-up: Request the four Senate offices keep in close contact and coordinate with the Governors’ offices on this issue. Thank Wyden and Boxer for their MSA effort.
4) Meeting with Congressman Herger’s Office, 8 June 2006
Finally, I met with Congressman Herger’s staff person on this issue and asked their office to support the Thompson bill and the effort to both provide relief for the fishing community and fix the Klamath. From what he said they were taking their direction from the growers, however KWUA has supported disaster relief or the fishermen. He also complained about the finger-pointing, and I said I was sympathetic remembering the fish being blamed for all of the farm problems in 2001 when we were being accused by the Bucket Brigade of “Rural Cleansing,” and assured him this is an effort to fix a problem and they should be on board.
Suggested Follow-up: Urge Congressman Herger, along with Doolittle, Walden and others to get on board. As long as they’re not collaborating and not helping, this will devolve into a partisan issue with a lot more finger pointing and no one will win.
This week California Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman will be in DC on oceans-related work, but promised to do some of the follow-up on the Klamath now Governor Schwarzenegger has made his declaration. Additionally Pietro is also back in DC this week (also ocean related) and may have a chance to do some follow-up as well.
LAPPs/IFQs. One of the main concerns with the Pombo MSA Reauthorization bill, in addition to some of its language allowing backsliding on conservation, is the lack of real standards for individual fishing quotas. In the meetings I had on the Hill regarding MSA, I pointed that out repeatedly that unless there is language in the House bill (and the Senate as well) with strong standards to protect against the abuses of IFQ systems we’d be better off not having MSA reauthorization this year. The language I suggested is much like that Larry “Duck” Collins, Pietro and I put in the June Fishermen’s News article. While in DC, I met with Amanda Leland with Environmental Defense about the IFQ issue. They have been big IFQ supporters, whereas PCFFA has generally been extremely wary of IFQs, saying if they are implemented it has to be subject to strong national standards to protect fishermen. Since ED has recently been working to promote community fishery quotas (e.g., Morro Bay) and there is some interest on the part of some of our members in community fisheries, I thought it would be good to sit down with ED and see if we may have some common ground on IFQs.
I met with Amanda following my meeting with Jason Peltier and gave her a list of the standards I felt would be essential for addressing concerns raised by PCFFA members and many other fishermen and fishing groups around the country. The list was based primarily on the Fishermen’s News piece.
I want to point out that what I’ve outlined above was the subject of our discussion; nothing has yet been agreed on. I would like to get input back from my membership and other fishing groups we work with and Amanda will have to run these ideas by others in ED. What is encouraging is that we do seem much closer now than before on some of the major issues, which will help as the MSA moves along – which could be fairly quick with the Senate possibly taking it up this week.
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2005, All Rights Reserved