View Full Version : Dick Pool's Comments for 10/8 Water Bond Hearing

Dan Bacher
10-06-2007, 02:41 PM
Comments of Richard Pool
To The California Senate
Natural Resources and Water Committee
October 8, 2007
Subject: *Water Supply Bonds

My name is Richard Pool. I am here today representing the Sport Fishing Industry. My company, Pro-Troll Fishing Products, manufactures sport-fishing equipment headquartered in Concord California. We are one of the largest suppliers of salmon fishing equipment in the country. The company is a very large stakeholder in the considerations, which involve the recovery and restoration of the sport and commercial fisheries of the California Delta and its tributary rivers. We have been in business 29 years and in the past two years have suffered a severe economic downturn because of the fishery problems created by the collapse of the delta ecosystem and fisheries.

I am also representing two other organizations, namely, The American Sportfishing Association headquartered in Alexandria Virginia and a coalition of California fishing businesses and fishing conservation groups who sponsor an activity called Water For Fish.

The American Sportfishing Association is the national trade association that represents the U.S. fishing tackle manufacturers and other sportfishing interests in the country. I recently completed a six-year term on its board of directors and continue to actively participate in its policy decisions.

The Water for Fish effort, was started in early 2007 out of concern for the water policies of the State and Federal Governments, which are allowing the destruction of the Klamath River and the California Delta fisheries. The program solicits letters and petitions asking legislators to establish water policies and fisheries restoration programs critically needed to recover our fisheries. *To date over 9,000 personal letters have been sent to legislators and over 6,000 petitions have been signed by anglers and commercial fishermen.

Sport Fishing is big business in California. There are 2.4 million recreational fishermen in the state. The economic impact is $4.9 billion dollars of which $700 million is in salmon alone. California is second only to Florida in fishing tackle sales dollars. The activity supports 43,000 jobs, $1.2 million in salaries and wages and $456 million in state and federal taxes. Maintenance of this economic engine is top priority for the fishing industry and the 2.4 million California anglers.

Fishing interests of California are deeply concerned with the fate of our state's fishery resources. We have watched as short sighted water management policies in recent years have seriously damaged the salmon, steelhead and striped bass fisheries of the state. Non-game species in the delta such as the Delta Smelt and the Longfin Smelt now stand on the brink of extinction due to these same policies. Laws have been broken, permits have been ignored, and biological opinions have been changed to serve the special interests of those whose only objective is to obtain more water for private profit.

We concur that water management for the future of California is in need of urgent attention. Our fear is that the needs of fish and wildlife will be left behind in the haste to implement changes. We urge the Natural Resources and Water Committee and the Legislature to ensure that any legislation enacted contains specific provisions for the policies, funds and programs needed to recover and enhance these fishery resources.

The governor has proposed an aggressive $9 billion plan to add water storage and a new conveyance system. We have been told by the Administration that there are funds and provisions included for fishery needs, but we have seen no specifics. This plan may have substantial long-term merits, but we cannot endorse or support it without ensured fishery recovery and restoration. We believe high priority shorter-term steps represent a much safer and more cost effective approach to the problem. Senator Perata's bill SB 1002 has many provisions we support.

There are several short-term steps in the delta that can assist in the recovery of the near extinct species and enhance the recovery of many of the important game and commercial species including salmon, steelhead, striped bass and sturgeon. We urge the legislature to include the following specific requirements and funding for these steps in any legislation it puts forward.

1. Given the prolonged and devastating fishery declines in the Bay-Delta estuary, we urge that the Bond measure that moves out of *the Legislature include a significant portion of the funding that would be set aside for the sole purposes of fishery restoration. The estuary’s fisheries have been declining for fifty years and it will take many millions of dollars to restore their habitat degraded by human development. In our opinion, the best place to spend this money is on purchasing the permanent additional flows these fisheries need to become self-sustaining. This would entail being able to use flows into and through the Delta only for fisheries and for the food web which is currently in terrible shape.Without such flow dedication, the system will continue to collapse.

2. Fish Screens. In the past few decades fish screen technology has improved dramatically. Fish can now be successfully separated from pumping facilities.We urge that state of the art screens be required for the State Water Project’s export of water from the Delta at Clifton Court *Forebay and at every major water diversion in the Sacramento-San Joaquin system. State of the art screens have already been installed in several California locations including the large Glenn Colusa irrigation district water diversion on the Sacramento and the Contra Costa Water District diversion in the delta. We further urge that the law specify that any new conveyance or diversion facility be required to include state of the art fish screening.

3. Fish Salvage. Once fish are screened at the state and federal delta pumping plants, they must be salvaged and moved safely to a location where they can survive. The current salvage system at these facilities is archaic and ineffective. They kill more fish than they salvage. We urge the legislature to require and fund new state of the art salvage facilities. These facilities should include improved fish handling at the pumping plant, state of the art trucks that move the fish to a safe destination and adapting pens that allow the fish to recover from stress before they are released where predators are present. The Delta Smelt stress very easily, but there is evidence that improved salvage could have an immediate and lasting impact on these fish and every other endangered species entrained at the facility.

4. Grow-out facilities for endangered species. Fish technology has demonstrated that survival rates increase dramatically when fish are held in captivity and grown to a size that is not easy prey for predators. We urge that grow-out facilities for salvaged fish be required and funded for all species listed as endangered plus species like striped bass whose larva float free in the water column and cannot be effectively screened in the larva stage.

5. We are told that the Governor's bond proposal revokes the area of origin for the Bay/Delta estuary and all of the Delta’s waters. It appears this is an attempt to repeal the Robie decision in D-1641. We urge the Legislature to maintain the area of origin provision and not allow this end run on such an important policy decision. The area of origin ensures that fish and wildlife in a given watershed will receive the necessary water to survive.

The 2.4 million fishermen of California rely on the State and Federal governments to protect the public fish resources of the state. *The Legislature shares in this responsibility. The delta is currently the biggest fish disaster in the State. We urge the Legislature to provide the leadership that will solve the problems and avoid the inevitable court battles that will continue under the status quo.

We appreciate the opportunity to present these views.

Richard Pool
Pro-Troll Fishing Products
5700A Imhoff Drive
Concord, CA 94520
(925) 825-8560