FISH1IFR at aol.com
Mon, 07 Apr 1997 15:02:14 -0400 (EDT)


An Essay on the ESA's Importance to Salmon Recovery

Fisheries and Conservation News from the Pacific
Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations and the Insititute
for Fisheries Resources


Let's hold our elected officials accountable.
Pick up the phone to protect the ESA.
Let the halls of Congress ring when spring recess ends on April 8.
All across the country folks will be calling for a stronger ESA.

Congressional Switchboard (202) 224-3121

Call your senators and tell them not to support Kempthorne's bill.

Senator Kempthorne has drafted an Endangered Species Act (ESA)
reauthorization bill. This bill would jeopardize the mission of the
ESA to recover species in peril. Kempthorne's bill would reduce the
number of species receiving protection under the ESA by:
o Weakening delisting standards.
o Tightening emergency listing standards.
o Requiring special rules for every species listed as
o jeopardize ESA-driven water reforms for salmon and other
fish by making state water laws prevail over the ESA in court

A better bill is about to be introduced in the House. It is estimated we
are losing approximately 100 species every day. Roughly one-third of
all fish species in the US are now at risk of extinction. Rather than weaken

protection for riparian and other species, Congress should strengthen
and properly fund the ESA, so more fish species do not slip through
loopholes and cracks in the current ESA.

An Essay on the ESA's Importance to Salmon Recovery:

Glen Spain

Salmon mean big business to the Northwest. Yet over the last 30 years
this region has lost an estimated 72,000 salmon produced family wage jobs,
and now loses at least $1.5 billion each year in potential salmon produced
income. Far too much of the salmon industry is now gone. Salmon have
been killed by widespread devastation of old growth forests, overgrazing,
chemical pollution, excessive water diversions and dams. Much of the
coastal and virtually all of the Columbia River salmon are spiraling toward
extinction. Coho salmon are down in Oregon and northern California from
a 1.4 million original run size to less than 39,000 individual fish -- more
than a 97% decline -- and already extinct in more than 55% of their historic

Decades of land use practices which wiped out inland salmon habitat have
now taken their toll. More than 106 separate Northwest salmon runs are
already extinct, with more than 90% of the rest at risk of extinction in the
future. Scientists now predict that unless current land use practices
9 out of 10 salmon species which once naturally occurred in vast abundance
throughout the Northwest will soon be extinct, with only a few scattered
pockets still surviving. Fishing businesses are caught in the midst of an
economic tragedy of vast proportions, which many efforts are now
desparately trying to reverse.

Today the last remaining barrier between salmon and their total
in the Northwest is the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). The
fundamental first step in any salmon recovery must be to prevent more
extinctions. Extinction means the death of all hope. Extinction is final
forever. The power of the ESA is the last resort when all other less
powerful efforts have failed.

The ESA thus can spell the difference between ultimately restoring or
forever losing those 72,000 salmon-based jobs. The ESA can mean restoring
Northwest salmon to America's tables and saving the fishing economy of
coastal and inland rural communities. Without fish there is no fishing
fleet, no
salmon-generated tax dollars for local schools and libraries, no jobs in many
rural communities. The ESA prevents the extinction of the Northwest's billion
dollar salmon industry as well as salmon themselves.

There is no doubt, however, that the ESA will put some much needed
limits on the insatiable greed of those who would squader our natural
for their own profit. For these powerful special interests, the ESA is
an inconvenient legal obstacle to overcome by gutting the Act in Congress.
In other words, they'd rather shoot the messenger than understand the

The ESA is like the warning bell on a fire alarm. When the building is
fire, the only response that saves your life is to get up and put out the
fire, not
to disconnect the fire alarm and go back to sleep! Congressional
short-circuiting of biological warning bells like the ESA is the clearest
example of "head in the sand" denial this nation has ever seen!

This country is facing an aquatic disaster of monumental proportions.
There are more fish species in North American than anywhere
else on earth, yet scientists tell us that more than 30% of all fish species
in this
nation are now at risk of extinction. The fact that so many species are
pushed toward extinction should tell us we are doing something very wrong.
The ESA warning bell is ringing loud and clear. Congress should be putting
out the fire, not disabling the bell.

The ESA is the favorite whipping boy for big corporate industry's
unwillingness to live within its means. Salmon and the other natural
of the Northwest are this region's "natural capital." It is this resource
industries of the future will be founded upon. Stripping our forests and
poisoning our water supplies is like a foolish farmer eating up all his seed
corn. In the final analysis, the ESA protects both the economic as well as
biological bottom line. Use up your natural capital and sooner or later you
will face both biological as well as economic bankruptcy -- you will, in
have committed economic suicide.

The current debate in Congress about the ESA is a great cross-roads.
Does this nation want to protect its "natural capital" or not? While there
no doubt that the ESA needs to be streamlined, current efforts by Senator
Kempthorne, for instance, to "reform" the ESA would simply gut it in
disguise. For instance, pecific provisions in Kempthorne's bill would make
it almost impossible to protect or restore salmon by eliminating ESA-driven
water reforms. Most salmon recovery progress that has been made in the
Columbia or the California Central Valley has involved water reforms. State
water laws never take the needs of fish into account, but only protect
irrigators. Under Kempthorne's proposed bill, none of these water reforms
could proceed -- instead, state law would prevail every time, and the lock
big state water users
have on their Legislatures would be complete.

Kempthorne's "reform" bill would in fact bring most current salmon recovery
efforts to a screeching halt, and could be the death knell of the salmon
industry throughout the Northwest. As representatives of thousands of
working men and women all along the coast who make their living from
the sea, we cannot let that happen. For us, as well as for salmon in the
Northwest, extinction is not an option.

(Glen Spain is the Northwest Regional Director for the Pacific
Coast Federation of Fishermen's Association (PCFFA), the largest
organization of commercial fishermen on the west coast.)