Mike Wade: Water diversions not sole reason for salmon decline

February 27, 2014 

George Skelton’s affinity for salmon is obvious (“ It’s farmers vs. fishermen,” Feb. 23). He takes great pains to paint a picture that water diversions in the Delta are the sole cause of the salmon decline, but nothing in life is that simple.

Salmon are impacted by numerous factors, not the least of which are predatory species such as non-native bass. Recent studies show that fewer than 10 percent of salmon hatched upstream make it alive to the sea because they get eaten on their journey through the Delta.

Among numerous quotes by the commercial fishing industry is one by Zeke Grader, spokesman for the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, that the salmon fleet of 1,000 ships is much smaller than 1980’s total of nearly 5,700. What is missing from Grader’s statement is that in 2003 and 2004, 1,500 commercial salmon ships were able to bring in the same weight of salmon as in 1980 – landing over 6 million pounds in each of those years. In 2012, the yield per ship was approximately twice that of 1980.

It might be fair to say that big commercial fishing operations are also improving their efficiency.

MIKE WADE, California Farm Water Coalition


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