[acn-l] ~~>FISHLINK SUBLEGALS 7/27/01<~~

Dean Staff (dean at staff.ca)
Fri, 03 Aug 2001 21:41:44 -0400


VOL 4, NO. 4 27 JULY 2001


Report Associates Modern Ecosystem Collapses With Ancient Fishing.
See 4:04/01.
Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone Growing in Size. See 4:04/02.
Offshore Oil Rig Abandonment Report Released. See 4:04/06.
Klamath Irrigators Get Money and Water. See 4:04/11.
Sportfishing Opposition to Marine Protected Areas. See 4:04/13.



appears in the 27 July issue of Science (pp.629-638), a leading group of
marine scientists argue that fishing impacts, some occurring thousands of
years ago, are at the heart of the crisis facing many oceanic environments
around the world today. While most have associated overfishing impacts
with technological advances and the intensity of modern fishing, mostly
occurring since World War II, the Science article entitled, "Historical
Overfishing and the Recent Collapse of Coastal Ecoystems," advances the
position that even in ancient aboriginal societies thousands of years ago
marine hunting (i.e., for marine mammals) and fishing took sufficient
numbers to cause widespread impacts on marine ecosystems.
Considering that early human populations hunted out many terrestrial
species, deforested lands, overgrazed pastures and engaged in destructive
farming practices (e.g., irrigated agriculture in the Tigris-Euphrates
"fertile crescent"), it should come as no surprise that overfishing occurred
as well, but even in the 1960's the position of many fishery scientists was
that the ocean's resources were unlimited.

"Fish are sufficiently abundant in the ocean to provide all the animal
protein required by the present human population of the world, and for an
increase in that population at least several fold," argued Dr. Wilbert
"Wib" Chapman, a leading fishery scientist, in 1964. "When the fishing
effort has increased beyond the point of maximum sustainable yield the
fishing can ordinarily be permitted to expand without serious damage to
the resource." Now slightly over 35 years since Chapman and other
experts extolled the endless bounty of the ocean's resources, scientists are
saying that the impacts of fishing have had a significant and damaging
affect on marine ecosystems, even as far back as 10,000 years ago.

The 19 authors not only assert in the article, based on historic records,
that overfishing is not a recent phenomenon, but that aboriginal societies
may have significantly impacted fish and shellfish stocks and marine
mammals, a change from the Madison Avenue and popular myth that
native societies practiced sustainable fishing. Moreover, their findings
indicate that a significant reduction of a species can have a profound
affect on the overall functioning of an ecosystem, advancing the case for
ecosystem management of fisheries. While fishing has had the major
impact, they also point to pollution, mechanical habitat destruction,
introductions (i.e., invasive species), and climate change as other factors
bearing on marine ecosystem health. The authors conclude, however, on
an optimistic note that it may be far easier to restore marine systems than
terrestrial ones because the extent of oceanic extinctions has been far less
than it has been on land. To view a copy of the article, go to:

RECORD SIZE: A 27 July New Orleans Times-Picayne article reported
that scientists at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium have
found the Gulf of Mexico's "dead zone," a portion of the Gulf where
oxygen content is too low to support life, to be at a record large size.
Spring rains this year have flushed fertilizers used by Midwest farmers
along tributaries to the Mississippi River into the system. The total
fertilizer input from this 32 state watershed induces an algal bloom that
upon algal death uses up all of the available oxygen, creating a condition
called hypoxia. At some spots in the Gulf, researchers this summer have
observed bottom-dwelling crabs at the surface. Currently the National
Hypoxia Task Force is recommending voluntary fertilizer reduction
programs and the restoration of wetlands along both the Mississippi
system and the Louisiana Coast. For the full text of the article, go to:

HUNTING: The International Whaling Commission (IWC) met this past
week in London to discuss an agenda fraught with controversy. The
Washington Post reported on 27 July that the major item of discussion is
the request by several traditional whaling countries like Japan and
Norway to lift a 15 year-old moratorium on commercial whaling. The two
countries currently account for the harpooning of about 1,000 adult
whales per year through loopholes in the international ban. Japan's share
is hunted under the rubric of "scientific research" despite the fact that the
whale's blubber ends up in upscale Japanese restaurants. Japanese
scientists claim that the increase in whale populations is cutting down on
food available for human consumption. Norwegians prefer the lean meat
of the whales and so this month will begin exporting the blubber to Japan.
Since both countries have submitted official reservations to the IWC, the
trade between the two is not in violation of international law. However,
the disregard for the IWC's current policies does not bode well for the
future unity of the Commission or its member nations. At the end of the
meeting there was no agreement reached to open a limited fishery and at
this point the ban will continue indefinitely. For more information go to
http://www.msnbc.com/news/603883.asp, or

SAFE" TUNA LABELS: On 23 July, a three-judge panel on the Ninth
Circuit Court of Appeals turned down the U.S. Government's efforts to
modify labeling requirements for "dolphin-safe" tuna, reported the San
Francisco Chronicle on 24 July. The ruling, upholding a district court
decision by Federal Judge Thelton Henderson, effectively keeps canned
tuna from Mexico out of the U.S. market. It is the latest round of a 30-
year battle over the fate of dolphins that swim above schools of tuna in
the eastern Pacific. In 1972, the U.S. Congress prohibited American tuna
boats from deploying nets on dolphins to seine tuna, and in the 1980's
imposed the same standard for foreign tuna imports. In 1990, Congress
mandated the "dolphin-safe" label for tuna caught without netting
dolphins. Major U.S. brands sell only tuna that carries that label, and
exclude tuna from several nations, including Mexico, which has the
largest tuna fleet.

The mortality of dolphins has fallen from over 400,000 in 1972 to
about 3,000 a year, according to federal scientists, but dolphin
populations have not recovered. The current case stemmed from a 1997
law that allowed the government to relax standards for dolphin-safe tuna
based on evidence that a nation's fishing practices were not harming
dolphins. The law said the label could be used if dolphins were trapped in
tuna nets and released, as long as shipboard monitors did not see any
dolphins being harmed and the change was supported by research studies.
To view the article, go to: www.sfgate.com.

the position of the outgoing New Democratic Party, the British Columbia
Liberal government will soon announce its plan to lift its current
moratorium and to expedite development of British Columbia's oil and
gas reserves off the northern B.C. coast. Energy Minister Richard Neufeld
made the pledge on 17 July, according to a story in the 18 July issue of
the Vancouver Sun. In doing so he largely rejected the recommendations
of a long-awaited report on offshore drilling by Northern Development
Commissioner John Backhouse. The 11-page Backhouse Report
recommended a much more cautious approach to lifting the moratorium,
including a series of public meetings to determine whether B.C. should
lift the moratorium at all. Fishing and marine protection interests in B.C.
are very concerned, since one major oil spill could wipe out much of the
Province's economically important marine resources.

Lynn Hunter of the David Suzuki Foundation said the B.C. Liberal
government appears willing to risk the environment for what it hopes will
be windfall profits. "I don't think they have thought it through," she said.
"The benefits would go to the huge multinationals and not to the people
of B.C." Hunter also said the risk of oil spills, chronic oil leakage,
economic uncertainties and the destruction of B.C.'s beauty outweigh any
potential benefits. The drilling would be in British Columbia's most
active earthquake zone. See the Vancouver Sun article at:
http://www.vancouversun.com/newsite/news/010718/5013957.html. Also
see the 18 July Vancouver Province article at:

ABANDONMENT: A new report, commissioned by the U.S.
Department of Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS), has been
released on oil rig abandonment. Entitled, "The Politics, Economics and
Ecology of Decommissioning Offshore Oil and Gas Structures," (OCS
Study MMS 2001-006), it was written by the Marine Science Institute at
the University of California/Santa Barbara. The report is timely since the
California Legislature is currently considering a measure, SB 1 (Alpert),
that would let the oil companies out from under their current legal
obligation to remove the rigs and clean-up the seabed at the conclusion of
the useful life of an offshore oil platform, by calling the rigs "artificial
reefs" (see Sublegals, 4:03/10; 4:02/16; 3:09/14). The bill is backed by
Chevron USA and United Anglers of California. The report recommends
oil companies operate and maintain liability for the platform
abandonment sites, and points to future problems that may occur,
including accidents, toppling, etc. at abandonment sites where rigs are not
removed completely and the seabed cleaned-up. The report further points
out that platforms do not provide appropriate structures for habitat and
would need to be enhanced with quarry rock or other materials (which
can cost up to $300,000), and that if they are "topped," the benefits of the
eutrophic zone would no longer apply. For a copy of the report, contact
the Marine Science Institute at (805) 963-3765 or go to:

MEETING: The California Fish & Game Commission will meet on
Friday and Saturday, 3-4 August in Sacramento. Agenda items for the
Friday session, beginning at 0900 HRS include:

* PCFFA's request for an experimental salmon troll fishery in San
Francisco Bay;
* The Department of Fish & Game's (CDFG) request to extend an
emergency regulation on incidental take of coho;
* Emergency action to close or adjust quotas for greenling fishery;
* Emergency action to allow retention of Oregon hatchery coho salmon;
* Consideration of adoption of a joint Board of Forestry & Fire Protection
and Fish & Game Commission policy on Pacific salmon and anadromous

Items for discussion Saturday, 4 August beginning at 0830 HRS include:
* Recommendations from the public and CDFG to changes in sport
fishing regulations;
* Commercial herring regulations; and
* CDFG's draft white sea bass management plan.

Both sessions will be held at the Resources Building Auditorium, 1416
Ninth Street in Sacramento. For more information, go to:

AND ENDANGERED SPECIES: The California Department of Fish &
Game's (CDFG) 2000 status summary of the state's 216 plants and 77
animals listed as threatened and endangered under the California
Endangered Species Act (CESA) is now available. Copies of the report
cost $10, and may be purchased from CDFG's Wildlife & Habitat Data
Analysis Branch, Information Services, 1807 13th Street, Suite 202,
Sacramento, CA 95814. Developed by CDFG's Habitat Conservation
Division, the document summarizes research, management, and
monitoring programs, participation in recovery planning, and cooperative
efforts with the federal government and other state and local agencies,
landowners, and the public to advance conservation efforts for
California's listed species. The State of California has its own Endangered
Species Act which is separate, and in some ways stronger, than the
federal equivalent, and not all listed species are on both lists. The
California Fish & Game Commission is only now in the process of listing
coho salmon, for instance, which has long been federally listed. Questions
regarding the purchase of the report can be directed to Karen Bates at:
(916) 324-3812.

REMOVAL STUDY: Notice was given in the 24 July Federal Register
(p. 38417) that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued on
4 May an 'Incidental Take Permit' to the Grants Pass Irrigation District of
Grants Pass, Oregon, once again authorizing destruction of anadromous
fish listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) at its Savage Rapids
Dam as part of its regular operations, though subject to a number of
conditions. The Savage Rapids Dam is a 76-year old water diversion dam
that is obsolete, blocks the Rogue River, destroys an estimated $5
million/year in salmon and steelhead economic benefits, and can more
cost-effectively be replaced by modern fish-screened pumps than be
retrofitted to meet fish passage needs.

The issue of the dam has been fraught with controversy, including a
suit by NMFS to remove it as in violation of the ESA in which PCFFA
and IFR both intervened. As part of settlement agreements in that suit,
efforts are now underway in Congress to obtain a portion of the funds
necessary to remove and replace the aging dam, including $500,000 to do
the feasibility and engineering studies preliminary to its removal. The
Grants Pass Irrigation District has flip-flopped from support to opposition
to support for dam removal several times, and is now supporting a
negotiated settlement that would compensate the District for costs of
removal and replacement with pumps (see Sublegals, 2:17/11). For a
copy of the Incidental Take Permit, contact the Habitat Conservation
Division, NMFS Northwest Region, 525 NE Oregon Street, Portland OR
97232-2737; Tel:(503)231-2377. For further information, contact Dr.
Nancy Munn at: nancy.munn at noaa.gov.

On 25 July, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) announced it is
beginning the public scoping process for renewal of long-term contracts
with the water districts and individual growers who divert water from the
Sacramento River under contract with the United States. The scoping
process will be held to solicit comments from interested parties to assist
in determining the scope of the environmental analysis and to identify the
significant issues. Water diversions along the Sacramento are of extreme
concern to salmon fishermen, since that river system supports a large fall-
run of chinook that supports the ocean salmon fisheries offshore
California, Oregon and Washington. When water conditions in the
Sacramento River and Delta are good, the fish flourish, but in years of
low rainfall and heavy diversions, fall-run chinook production, along with
the other salmon runs of the Central Valley system, decline dramatically.

The agreements BOR has with the Sacramento River agricultural
contractors provide for diversion of water referred to as the 'base supply'
which is diverted free of charge, and provide project water supplied from
the California Central Valley Project (CVP) for which payment is
required. The current contracts expire on 31 March 2004. These contracts
are a sweet deal BOR has given the Sacramento Valley rice growers (e.g.,
2 million acre-feet of CVP water for free, every year, even in dry years
like this one, based on a 6 acre feet per acre allocation: so much water
that this year they tried to sell 160,000 acre-feet back to the Westlands
Water District, on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, for a $90 per
acre-foot profit). Three public scoping meetings have been scheduled as

TRACY: VFW Hall, 430 West Grant Line Road,
6 August,1300-1600 HRS

CONCORD: Concord Hilton, 1970 Diamond Blvd.,
7 August 1300-1600 HRS

RED BLUFF: Community Senior Center, 1500 S. Jackson St.,
8 August 1300-1600 HRS

Written comments on the scope of the environmental document should be
submitted by 27 August to Buford Holt, Environmental Specialist, Bureau
of Reclamation, Northern California Area Office, 16349 Shasta Dam
Boulevard, Shasta Dam, CA 96019. For additional information on the
scoping meetings, contact Jeffrey S. McCracken at: (916) 978-5100.

MILLION AND MORE WATER: Suffering from the worst drought in
recorded history, Klamath Project irrigators will receive an immediate
$20 million in emergency disaster assistance from Congress. Moreover,
on 25 July, Secretary of Interior Gail Norton announced in Portland,
Oregon that the Klamath Project would also get an immediate additional
75,000 acre-feet of water as a result of higher than estimated water levels
in Upper Klamath Lake she attributed to conservation by upstream users
and unexpected thunderstorms. This brings the total water deliveries to
the Klamath Project in this extreme drought year to 145,000 acre-feet, or
41 percent of a normal water year allocation of 350,000 acre-feet. Total
rainfall in the Upper Klamath Basin desert this year, however, has been
less than one-third of its normal 12 inches a year. Excessive water
diversions over many years in the over-appropriated Klamath Irrigation
Project have brought several fish species to the brink of extinction,
including threatened downriver coho salmon. In addition to coho, several
years of massive lower river fish die-offs have caused economic chaos
throughout many lower river fishing-dependent coastal communities due
to poor water quality conditions below Iron Gate Dam, in turn primarily
caused by inadequate and polluted water releases from the Klamath
Irrigation Project (see Sublegals 4:02/01; 4:01/01; 3:26/05; 3:25/05,
3:24/01). For more information see: www.pcffa.org/klamath.htm.

July issue of the Daily Astorian reported on a heated meeting intended to
share views, held 26 July in Astoria, Oregon, between the Portland Port
Commission, long the supporters of a plan to deepen the natural channel
of the Columbia River all the way up to Portland, and the plan's most
vocal opponents including the Commissioners of the Port of
Astoria, lower Columbia salmon and crab fishermen and allied
businesses. Crab fishermen particularly fear the impact of 250 million
tons of dredging sediment dumped in fragile Columbia estuary crab
nurseries that support a $50 million crab fishery, the most productive on
the west coast. Salmon advocates also fear that the impact of more
dredging on the Columbia estuary, which has already lost 90% of its
salmon habitat, could be the final straw that pushes most of the Columbia
River's endangered salmonid species into extinction. In fact, the
Columbia River Crab Fishermen's Association and PCFFA sued the
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in 1999 over the likelihood of
estuary and crab nursery damage from the dredging. The suit forced
NMFS to withdraw its previously favorable Biological Opinion on the
dredging plan because of major contradictions between the dredging plan
and NMFS's other efforts to restore that same estuary habitat as part of its
Columbia River Salmon Recovery Plan. NMFS scientists have repeatedly
stated that the best way to restore endangered Columbia River salmon
runs short of breaching dams would be to restore the very same estuary
habitat the channel deepening project would destroy (see Sublegals
2:1/15; 2:5/08, 2:14/08).

Funding for the channel deepening project has also been an issue. The
State of Oregon recently pledged $28 million toward the $196 million
dredging program in a close and controversial vote in its recently recessed
Legislature. The Astoria meetings were brokered by Bob Eaton, formerly a
member of the Astoria Port Commission and now a member of the Portland
Port Commission, but also former Director of Salmon for All, a PCFFA
associate member which represents the interests of lower river gillnet
salmon fishermen, more than 90% of whom have now been forced out of
the fishery by years of declines. The main opposition group is the Columbia
Deepening Opposition Group (CDOG). To get on the CDOG mailing list,
contact Peter Huhtala at: peter at pmcc.org. The full Daily Astorian story
is at: http://www.dailyastorian.com/topstory/DredgeNews.html.

GROUPS TO MPAS: "The wacko environmentalists, liberals and lefties
that want to BAN sportfishing in our Channel Islands, at Catalina, in
Santa Monica Bay, off the Palos Verdes Penninsula, the area in front of
Camp Pendleton, and La Jolla are getting their way by the enactment of
The Marine Life Protection ACT that is already LAW and goes into
effect January 1st 2002. Listening to fishing radio talk shows,
subscribing to The Western Outdoor News, belonging to United Anglers
of So. California or the nationwide Recreational Fishing Alliance are not
enough to stop these environmental NAZIS. Our elected bureaucrats like
U.S. Senators Diane [sic] Feinstein and Barbara Boxer NOW IGNORE
YOUR EMAILS since they get so many it is impossible to read them all.
Guess what? They ignore your letters too! If selling your fishing tackle,
your fishing boat and tow vehicle and NEVER going deep sea fishing on
a party boat is not in your IMMEDIATE FUTURE, maybe you should
think about getting real pissed off and politically militant. These bastards
ONLY UNDERSTAND two things; MONEY and power," is the way
sportfishing leader Ace Carter worded his alert to fishing groups to rally
opposition to proposed marine protected areas (MPAs) for the California
coast (emphasis in original).

The recent public "workshops" held by the California Department of
Fish & Game (see Sublegals, 3:26/02) that conclude this next week in
Fort Bragg and Eureka got off to a rocky start when even supporters of
the Marine Life Protection Act (the 1999 California legislation that called
for the establishment of a uniform system of MPAs from the existing
hodge-podge of marine reserves and no-fishing zones along the state's
coast) were critical of the Department of Fish & Game's implementation
of the Act. PCFFA questioned CDFG's development of maps for public
review without consultations first between a representative group of
fishermen and others with extensive at-sea experience and with marine
scientists, as was envisioned by the MLPA. Sport anglers meanwhile
have supported closures for commercial fishing, but oppose MPAs being
applied to them. Part of the problem in implementing the MLPA has been
the failure of the Davis Administration to provide the necessary funds to
CDFG to run the program. For information on the areas being considered
for MPA status off California, go to: www.dfg.ca.gov/mrd/mlpa. To
view PCFFA's position, policy paper and MPA testimonies, go to:
www.pcffa.org/mpa3.htm. For information on the sportfishing groups'
position, contact Ace Carter at: acecarter2000 at yahoo.com.

AUGUST IN NEWPORT BEACH: Two infestations of the highly
invasive non-native marine alga Caulerpa taxifolia were identified in
Southern California in the summer of 2000, one in a coastal lagoon in
northern San Diego County and one in Huntington Harbor in adjacent
Orange County. The presence of this seaweed along California's coast
has raised great concern among scientists and fishing groups, in part
based on experience with its introduction and spread throughout the
Mediterranean Sea. Caulerpa taxifolia threatens fisheries and other
beneficial uses of California's waters and may be the most threatening
form of pollution of the state's coastal marine waters originating from
nonpoint sources. Responding to the threat, the Southern California
Caulerpa Action Team (SCCAT) will host a workshop to address issues
surrounding the California introduction of this aquatic invasive. SCCAT
represents a consortium of public and non-governmental organizations
that have joined together to fight this aggressive alga and prevent its
spread along California's coast. The workshop will be held 28 August at
the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum in Newport Beach, California from
1800-2100 HRS. For more information, contact Erin Williams at:
emwilliams at ucdavis.edu or go to the workshop website at:

ENFORCEMENT: The Washington Post reported 22 July that the Bush
Administration is advancing a plan to cut federal environmental
enforcement operations and to shift resources to the states, despite
mounting evidence that many states are unable or unwilling to enforce
federal environmental laws. U.S. President George W. Bush has proposed
reducing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) law
enforcement staff in Washington and regional offices by eight percent, or
270 positions, while providing $25 million in new grants to the states for
enforcement activities. Many states, however, have shown little interest
in enforcing these laws themselves. The EPA's own Inspector General
said in a September 1998 audit that six states had failed to report
numerous serious violations of the Clean Air Act, as they are required to
do. While performing more than 3,300 inspections, the states of
Arkansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and
Washington reported only 18 significant violations. While reviewing a
small portion of those 3,300 inspections, the EPA turned up an additional
103 serious violations. 26 states have also enacted environmental self-
audit laws that waive punitive damages from companies that voluntarily
report environmental violations, a policy championed by Bush.
Particularly important in the west coast is increasingly lax state
enforcement of the Clean Water Act, which directly protects many west
coast fisheries. For details and the full article see:

MEETING SCHEDULED: On 27 July, the National Marine Fisheries
Service (NMFS) published in the Federal Register (Vol. 66, No. 145,
p.39148) notice of a public meeting of the North Pacific Fishery
Management Council's (NPFMC) committee formed to study reasonable
and prudent alternatives (RPAs) for Steller sea lion protection in Alaska
fisheries. The meeting will be held in Juneau, Alaska, 23-24 August,
beginning at 0800 HRS at the Federal Building, 709 W. 9th Street, in the
NMFS Conference Room, 4th Floor, Juneau. Severe fishing closures have
been ordered for much of Alaska's groundfish and pollock fisheries in
order to provide protection for the Endangered Species Act-listed
sealions. It had been thought that much of the animal's diet was pollock
and thus affected by that fishery, however recent evidence may indicate
the Steller sea lion's principle forage fish to be herring (see Sublegals,
4:02/13). For more information on the meeting, contact David Witherell,
NPFMC at: (907) 271-2809.

NEWS, COMMENTS, CORRECTIONS: Submit your news items,
coments or any corrections to Natasha Benjamin, Editor, at:
ifrfish at pacbell.net or call the IFR office at either (415) 561-FISH
(Southwest Office) or (541) 689-2000 (Northwest Office).

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Dean Staff Kanata On. Canada
dean at staff.ca
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