A Healthy Fishing Industry Is Just One of the Benefits of Strong Endangered Species Protections

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Friday is Endangered Species Day – a day to celebrate the incredible diversity of our planet and the bounty it provides.  It also happens to fall during that time of year when we’re itching to get outside and revel in the return of spring.  So, this year, why not celebrate by firing up the barbecue and grilling up some wild salmon for your family and friends, bought fresh off the boat at Half Moon Bay’s Pillar Point Harbor?  Throw in some asparagus and strawberries from California’s Delta, and you have the makings of a feast.   

And, while it might not be obvious, your feast will be a tribute to the thousands of men and women whose livelihoods are supported and enhanced by endangered species protections in the San Francisco Bay-Delta.  Protecting the Delta’s threatened and endangered native fish helps ensure that sufficient fresh water flows through the Delta to sustain the Delta’s abundant agricultural economy.  Those protections also benefit fall run Chinook salmon, which forms the backbone of the quarter-billion dollar commercial salmon fishery off the coast of California and Oregon, as well as a large part of the recreational fishing industry in California.  Here’s Dick Pool, owner of Pro-Troll Products, a company that creates and markets innovative fishing and marine products, to tell you more about the importance of these protections to him and his industry: 

As Dick notes, all runs of Chinook salmon in California have crashed since 2002, due in large part to the operations of the state and federal water projects that divert too much water out of the Delta and fail to provide sufficient flows for salmon rearing and migration.  In fact, California’s Chinook salmon populations are less than a quarter the size that state and federal law mandated that agencies achieve by 2002.  Here’s a graph depicting salmon population trends in relation to this legal requirement:

As you can see from this graph, our salmon populations began to recover from the beating they took in the 2000s when a court imposed pumping and other restrictions on the state and federal water projects to protect threatened and endangered fish in 2008. The Endangered Species Act is helping folks like Dick and the California fishing industry to survive.  That’s a result worth celebrating, this Friday and every day.