GGSA Opposes House Bill Harmful to Salmon

Contact: John McManus, GGSA, 650-218-8650

GGSA Opposes House Bill Harmful to Salmon
Bill calls for sending more Northern California salmon water to western San Joaquin Valley

San Francisco — A bill set for vote on Wednesday in the US House of Representatives would weaken or eliminate protections for California’s rivers, salmon fishery, and Bay-Delta estuary, as well as preempt California state law. The bill, H.R. 23, The Gaining Responsibility on Water Act of 2017, (Valadao) is similar to other bills from House San Joaquin Valley representatives the last few years aimed at moving more Northern California water to growers in the arid western San Joaquin Valley. In addition to harming Central Valley salmon, which provide for thousands of fishing related jobs in California and Oregon, water quality for Delta farmers would also be degraded.

H.R. 23 would establish a dangerous precedent of federal usurpation of state rights by explicitly preempting state water law and water rights. This would overturn more than a century of precedent under the 1902 Reclamation Act. H.R. 23 also directs the United States to breach its obligations under a court-approved settlement to restore the San Joaquin River.

“This is San Joaquin Valley politicians dictating to the entire state how water from Northern California should be diverted to them, no matter the cost to everyone else,” said GGSA executive director John McManus. “Without a doubt, H.R. 23 would have devastating effects on salmon fishermen and thousands of small businesses that rely on salmon.”

“California’s Bay-Delta estuary is a key waterway traversed by salmon. This bill would destroy what’s left of it at great cost to fishing families and communities that depend on salmon,” said GGSA vice chairman Mike Aughney.

The closure of the salmon fishery in 2008 and 2009 resulted in thousands of lost jobs in California and Oregon. On top of that the last several fishing seasons have been very poor due to the drought and water management decisions that put salmon and salmon fishing families last.

H.R. 23 permanently puts last the livelihoods of commercial and recreational salmon fishermen, Delta farmers, fishing guides, tackle shops, and communities across California and along the
West Coast. The bill would greatly harm the commercially valuable fall run salmon and increase the risk that winter-run Chinook salmon and other native fish species go extinct.

Both of California’s US Senators and Governor Brown have come out against H.R. 23. Details of the bill’s provisions and GGSA’s opposition are further spelled out here. GGSA joined the American Sportfishing Association, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and the CalTrout in a letter to Congress outlining objections to the bill.

H.R. 23 is being moved in Congress without receiving any public input from the State of California, hunting organizations, sport and commercial fishermen, tribes, or conservation groups.

“GGSA is committed to addressing natural resources challenges in California through long-term solutions that restore and maintain the health of the environment on which our economy and the quality of our lives depend,” said McManus. “This bill would do the opposite. Investments in water recycling, storm water capture, water use efficiency, groundwater cleanup and other regional water supplies will allow more water for salmon while providing communities with drought-resistant water supplies that create local jobs and sustain our economy and environment. These are real solutions to California’s drought, not H.R. 23.”

The Golden Gate Salmon Association ( is a coalition of salmon advocates that includes commercial and recreational salmon fisherman, businesses, restaurants, a native tribe, environmentalists, elected officials, families and communities that rely on salmon. GGSA’s mission is to protect and restore California’s largest salmon producing habitat comprised of the Central Valley river’s that feed the Bay-Delta ecosystem and the communities that rely on salmon as a long-term, sustainable, commercial, recreational and cultural resource.

Currently, California’s salmon industry is valued at $1.4 billion in economic activity annually and about half that much in economic activity and jobs again in Oregon in a normal season. The industry employs tens of thousands of people from Santa Barbara to northern Oregon. This is a huge economic bloc made up of commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen (fresh and salt water), fish processors, marinas, coastal communities, equipment manufacturers, the hotel and food industry, tribes, and the salmon fishing industry at large.
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