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There are a couple major issues driving the current situation in
regards to the Klamath:

1. Endangered Species Listings of coastal Chinook (not the fall-run
Klamath
fish we have been hearing so much about, but the Klamath fish are used
as a
proxy for the ESL fish in other rivers) and fall-run Coho salmon.
2. The "Floor" of 35,000 natural spawners of Klamath fall-run Chinook
is
forecasted to not be met for the third straight year.

. In 2002 there was a massive fish kill that resulted in the loss of
between
60-70 THOUSAND adult fall-run Chinook. These fish did not get the
opportunity to spawn.
. The fish kill was a result of a decision by the administration to
drastically reduce river flows in order to give the farmers that use
Klamath
water more irrigation. The low water not only killed the run of fish
before
they spawned, but a parasite bloom occured due to the continued low
water
flow. These parasites thrive in the river when water conditions are
deteriorated (low flows result in warm water temps resulting in algal
growth
resulting in the spread of a "host" worm which the parasite thrive) and
are
still in the river.
. Mortality for fish infected with the parasite is 100% . A study in
2004
showed that 90% of the out-migrants were infected.
. A similar study in 2005 showed that 80% of the out-migrants were
infected.
. 2006 shows good potential for the river as there are high flows and a
good
snow-pack.
. Because of the infected fish in years since 2002 we are looking at a
situation that will impact fishing until at least 2008-2009.
. The agreement under the coho ESA listed fish calls for enhanced river
flow
measures to be put in place by 2010. This means that no changes are
expected
in terms of water management until 2010 which will result in the
situation
that might not change until 2013. Unless major changes happen before
2010 it
is likely that our first return to a "normal" run could not be for
another
7-8 years!

A very helpful table was presented that shows the relationship between
recruits and spawners. This table focuses on the time period 1979-2000.
In
12 of those years the "Floor" of 35,000 returning natural spawners was
not
met. In 10 of the years the "Floor" was met. What is very interesting
about
this data is the following:
. In years where the "Floor" was not met the recruit to spawner ration
was
8:1 (meaning for every spawner that went up the river 8 fish came out).
. In years where the "Floor" was met the ratio drops to 1.3:1

The reasonable conclusion that can be drawn from these data is that the
floor number of spawners is artificially high and results in
disappointing
returns when the floor is achieved. This is very important, because
this
floor of 35,000 spawners is actually misnamed and is in fact an optimum
productivity objective and not really a floor at all. Many factors are
at
play here but the fundamental conclusion is that a much lower target
number
is reasonable and is supported by the DFG's very own data. In fact in
1992
we had the same situation with the floor not being met for three years
and
there were only 12,029 natural spawners, yet this resulted in the
second
largest recruitment on record! Indeed, smaller numbers of natural
spawners
results in much healthier recruitments in all cases.

Perhaps the most important factor in all of this is the way we use
certain
words. The "Floor" that we keep hearing about is referred to as a
"conservation objective." This is really a false statement. The "Floor"
value is really a tool to achieve Optimum Yield (OY). This is a fishery
management tool and not a traditional conservation tool. However, when
people hear that the "conservation floor" is not met they assume the
worst
case scenario when in fact that is not remotely the case. The main
point
here is that even though the floor was not met (and has not been met in
well
over 50% of the years since 1979) the stock is still in decent shape.
This
is by no means an endangered species or even a threatened species - it
is a
species that is having trouble but is by no means in danger of
disappearing.

With that said some fundamental changes must take place if we ever want
to
get this run back to its historical potential.

As if the situation is not bad enough we also have another problem -
the
coastal Chinook (listed under the Endangered Species Act). The real
problem
here is that because there is no way to accurately count these fish,
the
Klamath fall-run Chinook is used as a "proxy" to determine their
harvest
rates.

. The ESA allows for up to a 16% incidental harvest of these fish.
. Over the past three years it is estimated (again based on the Klamath
"proxy") that the harvest was much greater and in 2005 was 23%.
. The 23% number must be reduced to 16% by NMFS rule. What is
disturbing is
that some scientists are recommending that because the model used has
been
underpredicting the last three years the model is being adjusted to
reflect
a higher take--just as we have taken measures to reduce the take and
despite
the fact that it will not accurately portray what actual conditions
will be
next year.

In addition to the troubles we face with the Klamath fall-run Chinook
we
also face a potential NMFS action with regards to the ESA listed
coastal
Chinook.

NOAA Fisheries (or NMFS) is the "official" final authority on this
matter.
Our first step was to have the PFMC consider the "Ticehurst Plan." We
were
successful in this regard in we have most of that as "Option 1." Now we
need
the PFMC to adopt this plan and have NOAA approve it and this is where
we
face our biggest challenge. NMFS presented a letter to the PFMC and
said "we
do not believe [any season] can be justified." Obviously we face an
uphill
battle here and this is where Phase Two of our strategy comes into
play.

It is believed that the final decision on this matter will be made by
the
White House. Several months ago President Bush made it clear that
salmon
issues in the Pacific northwest would fall on fishermen - not
agricultural
or industry.
http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory?id=1542100

The thing I hope you all take to heart here is it makes no difference
if the
administration is on the left or on the right. Partisan differences
between
fishers must be put aside if we have any chance at getting back this
year's
(and future years) salmon seasons. The current administration has made
it
very clear that fishermen, both sport and commercial, will pay the
price for
the current salmon situations along the pacific coast and our job will
be to
convince them otherwise. It is our ONLY chance of getting anything
back. I
want to emp that this is not an attack from the environmental
community or anybody else. It is based on the policies put in place
over the
past several years.

Our Plan

A. There will be two parts to this. The first will be a continuation of
our
letter writing campaign. However this time it will not be letters that
we
ask you to write and send via mail, but rather phone calls, faxes, and
emails. The targets of this campaign will be:

. President George W. Bush
. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
. Senator Dianne Feinstein
. Senator Barbara Boxer
. Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez . Local state
congressional/senate representative . Your individual Federal Congress
representative

We will be asking you to contact all of these individuals again by
email,
fax, and most importantly by phone. We will have a brochure printed and
available for download that will highlight the major points we want to
get
across to these individuals. This will include both economic and
conservation objectives. This should be ready in electronic format by
Wednesday and in hard copy on Friday. We are going to need all of your
help
on this grassroots effort to get the word out. We will be urging you to
get
the literature in the hands of as many people and businesses as
possible.

ASA is committed to working this issue from Washington D.C..

B. The other half of our effort will be a massive public showing at two
upcoming meetings. The first will be at a public hearing in Santa Rosa
and
the second will be the PFMC meeting in Sacramento the first week of
April.
We will be coordinating busses to shuttle people to the PFMC meeting
and
will be encouraging as many of you as possible to spend as much time as
you
can in attendance. I realize this will be difficult for many but it is
crucial that we make a major impact here. There will be national press
attention throughout the week-long event and it is our hope that we can
provide the added pressure to convince the PFMC to adopt "Option 1."

This is just an outline for now of the strategy but I thought it
important
to let you all know what the overall strategy will be. The details are
being
worked out right now (times dates, literature) and we will be posting
them
in the coming days and weeks.

Please have some patience as there is just a ton of work that we have
to do.

I realize that everybody has ideas as to how they think we can "fix"
the
situation on the Klamath. While many ideas are useful they are not
realistic
solutions to the current problem Right now we need to focus on what is
right
in front of us and not get side tracked on issues of Indian fishing, ag
interests, or sealions. Our primary goal at this juncture is to
convince the
White House that there is no reason to destroy our rich tradition of
salmon
fishing and cause a cascading economic catastrophe in light of the data
available. What we are talking about is shutting down an entire
industry -
both sport and commercial - at the expense of a couple hundred Klamath
fish.

The literature I am putting together will synthesize this point and
provide
good talking points as to just what the real impacts will be.

Stay tuned.

Presidents Note:
It's time to take this extremely seriously, if we do not act now, and
act in defense of ourselves, our only destiny will be much of the same.
The only problem that we have is that logic and reason are on our side,
but these days, that seems more of a liablitly than an asset.


Chris Hall
President, Coastside Fishing Club
http://www.coastsidefishingclub.com
 
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