Commercial salmon season kicks off after delay

A much delayed commercial salmon season will kick of tomorrow; a season on the heels of last years poor salmon season and a disastrous crab season.  For many commercial salmon boats, this is a do or die season.

Nonetheless, today on Fishermans Wharf, fishermen celebrated  tomorrow's opening of the commercial salmon season, already two months delayed.

"We have the most beautiful fish and we're really excited to start fishing tomorrow," said Larry Collins a veteran Bay Area fisherman. But, it will be a short salmon season to catch the prized wild  California King Salmon for a beleaguered, shell shocked fleet.

"Three disasters: last year's salmon season, a declaration for this years salmon season  and also the season for crabs that we had demoic acid issues for last year.," said Don Marshall of the Small Commercial Boat Fishing Association.,"

"These last three or four years, I've never seen in my 40 years a collection of bad things happening one after the other after the other after the other," said fisherman Collins.

In a still unpassed Federal budget bill, only $20 million has been earmarked maximum for fishery disaster relief nationwide. But, California's fishing industry and fishing service industries alone need $100 million in relief.

"The impacts to fishing communities, to individuals, to businesses and families are absolutely up and down my district which which begins at the Golden Gate Bridge and goes all the way to the Oregon Border.," said U.S. Congressman Jared Huffman, (D) North Bay.

"The disaster relief that you speak of is vital to make sure that our community stays here to be able to harvest t his seafood for the future," said Mr. Marshall.

While the subject today is salmon, what this is really about is the nagging problem that California has faced forever: who gets water and how much?.

"The salmon don't have enough water in the spawning habitat, the rivers, to actually complete the who process of spawning," said Mr. Marshall.

That's because in low water and drought years, lack of enough water going down spawning rivers is insufficient to maintain healthy populations which  may well shut many fishermen down.

"Shut them down what? So the billionaires in the Central Valley can get subsidized, a little more water, a little more subsidized water because they drilled all of their ground water over he last 4 or 5 years wile we had seasons closed, season shortened," said former long time U.S. Congressman George Miller, a long time protector of San Francisco Bay.

"As we have these water wars and more and more water gets sucked out of the Delta and out of these rivers, it collapses ecosystems, it collapsed the ecosystem of San Francisco Bay," said state Senator Scott Weiner, (D) San Francisco.

Twenty-five years ago, there were more some 4400 licensed commercial salmon boats. Today there are just over 400.

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