Fish Out of Water: How Water Management in the Bay-Delta Threatens the Future of California's Salmon Fishery

Issue Paper
July 23, 2008

Prized as a healthful food, valued by recreational and commercial fishermen, and central to the culture of many of California's Native American tribes, Chinook salmon sustain local economies from the central coast of California to Oregon. But in April 2008, state and federal agencies took the unprecedented step of completely closing the commercial fishery for Chinook salmon. And California now faces the possibility of becoming a state where salmon fishing is a thing of the past and where wild, locally caught California salmon permanently vanishes from restaurant menus and supermarkets. This July 2008 issue paper examines the operation of water management projects in the state as one of the most significant -- and reversible -- causes of the fishery collapse and provides comprehensive policy recommendations for restoring and sustaining this treasured resource.