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Thursday, March 30, 2023

California chinook salmon numbers fall

“We’ve still got good water resources in California. They just need to be managed right, in a little bit more fair and balanced way, so we don’t crush the native salmon runs that the state has been blessed with. And this year, we can see they’ve been crushed,” McManus said.

He said the association’s members support responsible stewardship.

“Fishermen and women throughout the state want to see this stock rebuilt,” McManus said. “We know it can be. It just takes a little bit of fairness, compromise and balance.”

Last month, environmental and fishing advocates condemned a request by the Newsom administration to temporarily waive environmental water-quality rules in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in an effort to store more water in reservoirs. They argued that the request, which was approved by the State Water Resources Control Board’s executive director, will be harmful for chinook salmon, longfin smelt and endangered delta smelt.

State officials have defended the approach, saying other existing protections are adequate.

Department of Fish and Wildlife officials said they are working toward plans aimed at rebuilding fall-run Chinook populations in the Sacramento and Klamath rivers.

But environmental advocates argue the state’s efforts are insufficient, and this year’s low numbers reflect a trend of continuing declines.

“It’s pretty heartbreaking,” said Doug Obegi, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “I think it certainly should be a big warning light that our native salmon runs are in deep trouble.”

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