Salmon predator myth persists

August 6, 2013 

The July 28 letter "Too little water for fish" unfortunately perpetuates the myth that because salmon and stripers have co-existed since stripers were introduced to California in the 1890s, there is no need for a predator removal program on the Stanislaus or elsewhere.

This myth was debunked by the National Marine Fisheries Service, which stated in its 2009 Biological Opinion regarding the continued long-term operation of the CVP and SWP, "Predators and their prey typically establish a dynamic equilibrium in abundance. As long as the ecosystem is healthy and the prey populations are robust, predation mortality becomes one of the factors affecting population dynamics of the prey species. But, when multiple stressors reduce the health, fitness, survival and abundance of the prey, and damage the ecosystem, the prey populations decline."

In the mid-2000s, poor ocean conditions resulted in dramatically reduced salmon populations, upsetting the relationship between the salmon and their predators. Removing predators for a period of time is necessary to restore the balance and ensure the survival of salmon. Taking more water from irrigation districts to make up for occurrences in the ocean is not a smart use of our precious water resources.

The writer also argues that improved water clarity is responsible for exposing out-migrating salmon to predation; what a hoot. The state hammered agriculture to clean up sediments in the late 1990s, and we did. Now, science is telling us to make the water murkier again. We have to laugh at how little we know about the needs of nature. Perception is our worst enemy. Good science makes for good decisions, and Jeff Denham's HR 2705 is a good start. Please send Denham a letter telling him you support HR 2705.

STEVE KNELL

general manager, Oakdale Irrigation District

Oakdale

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