Friday January 27, 2023

Lost Coast Outpost

Despite the wet winter, the Department of Interior has announced plans to cut Klamath River flows up to 30% below the minimum mandated by the Endangered Species Act to protect listed coho salmon. River flows will drop below 750 cubic feet per second (cfs) for the first time in decades. This could prove disastrous to juvenile coho salmon along with other species including Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, and Pacific lamprey. The Yurok Tribe and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations have already filed a 60-day Notice of Intent to sue the federal government.

“We know from experience that flows this low lead to massive fish kills. It happened in the fall of 2002 and the spring of 2004,” said Yurok Vice Chairman Frankie Joe Myers. “This plan is reckless and it disregards the best available science.”

In 2002, similarly low flows led to the infamous Klamath Fish Kill when tens of thousands of adult salmon died as they tried to make their way to their spawning grounds.  In 2004, similarly low flows caused a massive juvenile fish kill which in turn led to a collapse of the entire west coast salmon fishery.

“Thousands of fishing industry jobs are at stake,” said Glen Spain, Pacific Northwest Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “This plan could lead to another fisheries disaster that will cost local coastal communities hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue.”

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