Salmon Rebuilding Plan Summary
The unprecedented collapse of the Central Valley salmon runs is of deep concern to the members of the Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA) and the entire salmon industry. The collapse of the fall run and the continued decline of the ESA listed species is of particular concern.
This rebuilding plan covers twenty six salmon projects that GGSA has developed. The fishery agencies have assisted by providing advice on the projects. Mr. Dave Vogel of Natural Resource Scientists has been the principal GGSA science consultant. GGSA has many member partners that have helped with the project including the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), The Golden Gate Fishermen’s Association (GGFA), Water4Fish (WFF) The Coastside Fishing Club and the Sacramento River Guides Association.
The twenty six projects have been selected because they rebuild all of the four wild and hatchery salmon runs and they can be implemented at early dates. The projects were divided into three tiers for completion. In April of 2013 the first eight high priority projects were selected. Most of these are now either underway or in the implementation stage.
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GGSA projects that the completion of the twenty six projects could double the current salmon populations.
There are four separate runs of salmon in the Central Valley system. Two of them are already listed under the Endangered Species Act and the other two have crashed badly. In the past decade the non-listed fall-run declined over 90 percent and the late fall-run declined 87 percent. The continued development and ever increasing water diversions from the Central Valley rivers, the Delta and the reservoirs without consideration of the water needed by salmon to survive is the biggest problem. With the current water practices, all the runs are unsustainable into the future. This needs fixing.
The salmon industry is currently surviving primarily on hatchery fish that are put in trucks and transported around the losses in the rivers and the Delta. These practices are under attack by some quarters even though, under status quo conditions, they are critical to the industry. Much of the work needed to rebuild the salmon runs must take place in the Sacramento River and its tributaries. Some Delta projects are also critically needed. Twenty of the GGSA projects take place above the Delta and six are in the Delta. Neither the proposed peripheral twin tunnels plan nor the Delta Plan currently include the projects needed to recover the salmon. Those proposals only focus on a few Delta habitat modifications and these alone will not recover the salmon. Some of the projects in the GGSA plan include:
- More spawning and rearing habitat for wild salmon in the upper areas and tributaries of the Sacramento River.
- Elimination of the stranding of wild salmon eggs when the salmon spawn along the edges of the rivers during high flows and the eggs are then left high and dry when the flows are cut.
- Modifying predator hotspots by eliminating predator hiding places or giving the baby salmon places to hide in predator locations.
- Using pulse flows in the rivers and tributaries to move smolts and fry past predator and other hazards to safe rearing areas.
- Improving flows through the Delta in the critical springtime when the smolts are migrating.
- Improving the archaic pump salvage system by placing the salvaged fish into recovery cages or pens instead of dumping them in a highly stressed condition into open predator locations.
- Enhanced trucking and barging practices to safely move hatchery smolts around the Delta and river hazards while also minimizing straying.
The Golden Gate Salmon Association will continue to work with other stakeholders, the fish agencies, political leaders and the water agencies to bring these changes about. We urge other organizations and the public to join us in this critical undertaking.