Striped Bass: Water Hogs Play the Blame Game
November 16, 2011
The Coalition for a Sustainable Delta is a nonprofit Section 501(c)(5) corporation with a stated goal of "creating a healthy Delta ecosystem." But I'm going to tell you like really is. The Coalition for a Sustainable Delta (sustainabledelta.com) is funded by agricultural interests that are using every means possible to maintain and/or expand their massive water withdrawals for irrigation. When populations of native species like Pacific salmon, steelhead, Delta smelt, sturgeon, and steelhead began a precipitous decline in 1999, these industrial irrigators were threatened by drought, lawsuits from true conservation organizations, and by federal intervention under the Endangered Species Act.
Now this same group of mega water barons, and billionaire industrial farmers, and the Westside Water District have gone on the offensive. They formed and funded the nonprofit coalition, and brought a $1.5 million lawsuit against the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) stating that the "real" reason for the decline of native fish species is not massive water withdrawals but in fact, predatory nonnative species like striped bass. The lawsuit places the blame on the DFG for not doing enough to remove nonnative species and in fact protecting them as gamefish.
The lawsuit in turn forced DFG to propose new regulations on striped bass that most Delta regulars are calling a "death sentence." Under the proposal created to placate the coalition, the daily bag limit for striped bass would increase from two to six fish and the minimum size would be reduced from 18 inches to 12 inches. The possession limit would be doubled. Additionally, Fish and Game would establish a "hot spot" for stripers at Clifton Court Forebay near Tracy, and adjacent waterways, where the daily bag would be 20 fish, with no minimum size limit. The possession limit would increase to 40 fish in the area.
DFG has provided no science as to how these regulations would help endangered species such as Delta smelt or salmon. A draft of the proposed changes is available online at: nrmsecure.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=39586.
The five member Fish and Game Commission must approve the new regulations. Contact the commissioners fgc.ca.gov and ask them to represent the interests of fishermen and gamefish. They are Fish and Game commissioners, not lackeys for agricultural interests.