This is not a joke - but you can (and should) help stop it!
Even fishermen who live on the East Coast are likely aware that for the second year in a row, California's salmon fishery is moribund. One of the main and longstanding reasons for decimation of many of the state's wild-salmon runs - including those historically with the greatest numbers of fish, from the mighty Sacramento River - is water diversion.
Powerful agribusiness interests have for years persuaded state and federal officials to allow the export of massive quantities of fresh water to huge corporate farms. Even after its own scientists warned the Bush Administration that water diversion would leave great numbers of threatened salmon runs dying in low, warm water, the Administration disregarded the advice and gave its thirsty (and powerful) pals in the big-farm biz the diverted water they wanted. Later that year, guess what? Great numbers of threatened salmon runs died in water far too low and warm for spawning success.
Now, as if intending to prove the bounds of their greed are truly without limit or shame, the same agricultural interests have, via a state assemblywoman by the name of Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield), come up with a bizarre scheme to divert attention from diverted water.
Turns out, it's not years of depriving wild salmon stocks of critical water for spawning and juvenile growth that are to blame for decimation of the species. The real problem? Striped bass that live in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are eating all the salmon.
Accordingly, Fuller has introduced a wacky but dangerous bill into the State Assembly that would end management of stripers and allow unlimited harvest of one of the state's great and valued game fish.
Ms. Fuller's sudden concern for wild salmon is laudable. It's too bad she couldn't revise her bill to force greedy agribusinesses and the politicians they own to share some of the water they take from the public domain - the Sacramento River - with the salmon she loves so much.
You don't have to be a Californian to be outraged at this reprehensible display of avarice. And you don't have to be a Californian to let your voice be heard. In fact, California lawmakers should hear from all of us and realize that Fuller's bill is so egregiously misguided that it has opponents chiming in from around the U.S. That's the kind of message that we should be sending.
The State Assembly's Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife will hear this bill on April 28th. Time is of the essence; if state lawmakers don't hear from anglers, this disastrous bill will pass.
Fortunately, you can register your opposition to Fuller's bill in mere seconds, by going to www.saveourstripers.org where you can read and sign onto a letter (separately, as an individual, business or NGO) instantly. When you have done that, send the link to a friend -- or a few. You may also want to visit a web site of folks who, unlike Fuller, are genuinely concerned with saving salmon and not veggies: www.restorethedelta.org.
If we don't act, and Fuller has her way, California is likely to end up with neither salmon nor striped bass - but plenty of cotton and artichokes.