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WEEKLY QUOTA OF FISHERY SHORTS CAUGHT AND LANDED BY THE INSTITUTE FOR FISHERIES RESOURCES AND THE PACIFIC COAST FEDERATION OF FISHERMEN'S ASSOCIATIONS ____________________________________________________________________________________ SUBLEGALS ~WE HOOK THE NEWS THAT'S FIT TO NET~ Vol. 15, No. 37 18 December 2009 ____________________________________________________________________________________


“It is only by doing things that others have not that one can advance.”


                                                                --- General George S. Patton  

___________________________________________________________________________________

      IN THIS ISSUE…….

SB 1759 Passes Senate Committee……..…….……………………….....…….………..…..……...15:37/01

Marine Spatial Planning Interim Report Released………….…….……..….…..……..............…….15:37/02

Rep. Lois Capps Introduces Aquaculture Legislation……………………………....…….…………..15:37/03

Climate Change Affecting Oceans, Fisheries on Multiple Fronts…….………………………….…..15:37/04

    AND MORE……

____________________________________________________________________________________

    15:37/01.  SB 1759 PASSES SENATE COMMITTEE: California Senator Dianne Feinstein’s bill to expedite water transfers in the Central Valley of California passed the US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on 16 December.  Senate Bill 1759, the Water Transfer Facilitation Act of 2009, is co-sponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer.  It would allow the Bureau of Reclamation to approve water transfers of up to 300,000 acre-feet of water without getting slowed down by impact studies and other environmental safeguards.  


    The bill is intended to aid farmers in the Central Valley who have been crippled by low water deliveries in an extended drought by eliminating red tape and thereby smoothing out the water transfer process.  The bill has received much support from Central Valley farmers, but fishermen and others with a stake in the health of the San Francisco Bay Delta ecosystem worry that negative consequences may abound as a result of the legislation.  Namely, opponents worry that the good intentions of the Act will enable water profiteering on a scale not yet seen, to the detriment of the Delta and its residents.  Friends of the River, Sierra Club California, Restore the Delta, and Friends of the Trinity River wrote a joint letter to Senators Feinstein and Boxer expressing their concerns, excerpted here:


    “The 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) protections still have not been implemented nor followed by the Bureau of Reclamation and now this legislation will undo even these modest provisions by allowing these taxpayer subsidized agricultural interests to profit from this public funded largesse at the further expense of our fishery resources. 


    “We oppose the passage of S 1759. It strikes at the heart of the principal purpose of the CVPIA, co-authored by Senator Bill Bradley and Congressman George Miller, and signed into law 17 years ago by President George H. W. Bush. There is no evidence to support the purported problem that the legislation attempts to solve – unless the intent is to by-pass environmental protections that are part of the CVPIA. 


    “We also are concerned about the unintended harm this legislation, if passed, can bring to the fish and wildlife resources of the San Francisco Bay-Delta and its estuary. We urge the bill be remanded to the Water and Power Subcommittee so the full effects and potential unintended consequences of the legislation can be analyzed.  We are concerned that this legislation, if it should pass, will be contrary to its intended purpose.”


    The authors of the letter suggest several modifications to the Act that would quell much of their opposition.  For example, a mandate that all water transferred must have been used on farm for the past three years would eliminate transfers of “paper water.”  Additionally, the authors of the letter suggest that the Act have language inserted “that would require any such transfer sale be entirely and exclusively water that originates south of the Delta in the San Joaquin Valley,” since Senators Feinstein and Boxer have asserted that this is, in fact, the intent of the legislation. 


    A new study regarding the state of groundwater in the Central Valley reinforces the need for a precautionary approach to new legislation.  According to Dan Bacher, “data from the NASA/German Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace), demonstrates that the aquifers for California's Central Valley and the Sierra Nevada have lost nearly enough water combined to fill the Colorado River's Lake Mead, America's largest reservoir, since October 2003.”  This rate of pumping is too high for aquifers to be naturally replenished.  According to the Grace data, the Sacramento River Basin is losing about 2 cubic kilometers of water each year, while the San Joaquin River Basin is losing substantially more, at 3.5 cubic kilometers each year.  This raises the question of whether the highly drainage-impaired San Joaquin Valley should continue to be irrigated at all. 


    To read the 16 December press release from Senator Feinstein’s office regarding the passage of SB 1759 through committee, visit http://feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=NewsRoom.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=999a97ad-5056-8059-7665-c97edb7b88f8.  A 17 December article from the California Progress Report detailing the Grace findings on groundwater decline in the Central Valley is available at www.californiaprogressreport.com/site/?q=node/7243.  The 7 December letter opposing SB 1759 may be found on the Friends of the Trinity River website at www.fotr.org/comments/LtrOpposingS1759_120709.pdf.


    15:37/02.  MARINE SPATIAL PLANNING INTERIM REPORT RELEASED:  On 14 December, the Obama-appointed Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force released its long awaited initial guidelines for Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning, also called "ocean zoning."  Twenty-four top-level officials comprise the Task Force, which was convened on 12 June by a Presidential Memo.  The group has devoted many hours over the past six months gaining as comprehensive as possible a view on ocean issues.  They have attended 38 expert briefings to learn about topics from shipping to commercial fishing to offshore energy development from professionals in each field.  They received public comment at 6 regional meetings and an additional 4,000 comments from the internet.


    “The uses of our oceans, coasts and Great Lakes have expanded exponentially over time. These waters provide the United States with many commercial, recreational, cultural, energy, scientific, economic, conservation and national security benefits and they sustain diverse habitats and species. At the same time they are facing environmental challenges including pollution and habitat destruction that make them increasingly vulnerable,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), in a press release accompanying the interim report.  Sutley has headed up the Task Force.  “Without an improved, more thoughtful approach, we risk an increase in user conflicts and the potential loss of critical economic, ecosystem, social, and cultural benefits for present and future generations.”


    One of the primary goals of the Task Force has been to develop guidelines for implementing large scale marine spatial planning as all theses activities compete for space and resources.   Twenty federal agencies currently have responsibility over some aspect of marine or coastal management, and 140 separate laws govern the resource.  According to the press release, "while many existing permitting processes include aspects of coordinated planning, most focus solely on a limited range of management tools and outcomes."  The Task Force hopes that a new framework can increase communication and efficiency in management and that comprehensive planning should make for more "flexible" and "ecosystem-based" management.


   Among the most concrete concepts to emerge in the interim report is the creation of 9 regional bodies that will integrate federal, state, Tribal, and local management.  These bodies are supposed to be "cooperative" rather than "top-down" in nature.  “America is a maritime nation so we must consider how we can protect the environment, facilitate maritime commerce, and responsibly harness oceanic resources.  By pursuing a “whole of government” approach, we can meet our broad goals while protecting our way of life,” said Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Thad Allen. 
 
    The interim report also emphasizes that "science-based information" should be put at "the heart of decision-making," and it calls for transparency and robust public and stakeholder participation.  The interim report will be open for comment for 60 days, after which time the Task Force will write its final report. Comments may be submitted at  www.whitehouse.gov/oceans.
    To read a 14 December press release accompanying the release of the interim report, and to access a link to the full report, visit www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/initiatives/oceans/interim-framework.


    15:37/03.  REP. CAPPS INTRODUCES AQUACULTURE LEGISLATION: California Congresswoman Lois Capps introduced the National Sustainable Offshore Aquaculture Act in the US House of Representatives on 16 December.  The proposed legislation aims to establish a robust national regulatory framework for permitting offshore aquaculture in the waters between 3 and 200 miles off the coast of the United States.  


    "Developing these guidelines has the potential to preserve the integrity of our fragile ocean ecosystems, meet the increasing consumer demand for seafood, reduce stress on wild fish populations and create jobs here at home," said Capps in a press release.


    Environmental groups including the Oceans Conservancy and Pew Environment immediately released statements in support of the legislation.  Said George Leonard, Aquaculture Program Director for the Ocean Conservancy, “It’s time to set a standard for open-ocean aquaculture, and the National Sustainable Offshore Aquaculture Act is an important step. The legislation offers a science-based precautionary approach including overarching environmental, socioeconomic and liability standards.” 


    If open ocean aquaculture is going to proceed in United States waters, comprehensive legislation of the sort proposed by Rep. Capps is critical to avoid piecemeal and ad hoc laws and regulations.  However, many members of the fishing and environmental communities remain unconvinced that offshore aquaculture should be allowed at all, especially before a thorough evaluation of how the nation’s protein needs might be supplemented via onshore, closed containment aquaculture facilities instead.


For a 17 December article about the proposed legislation from Seafood Source, see www.seafoodsource.com/newsarticledetail.aspx?id=4294987442. A 17 December press release from the Ocean Conservancy is at www.oceanconservancy.org.


    15:37/04.  CLIMATE CHANGE AFFECTING OCEANS, FISHERIES ON MULTIPLE FRONTS:  The Copenhagen climate talks have brought attention to dozens of major changes that will besiege the planet as a result of out-of-control greenhouse gas emissions.  An entire day at Copenhagen was devoted to the effects climate change will have (and has already begun to have) on the world's oceans, and the impacts these changes will have on global fisheries.  One impact that is already evident, particularly with coldwater species, is the disruption of warming ocean temperatures on marine life.  Warming patterns will likely cause fish habitats and migration paths to change as species forge pole-ward seeking cooler water. As a result, many nations may lose access to traditional fisheries as the habitat moves out of their exclusive economic zone. 


     An increasingly well-documented effect of climate change on saltwater bodies is also ocean acidification.  Ocean acidification occurs when seawater absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The interaction of H2O with CO2 causes the creation of hydrogen ions, which increase the acidity of the oceans.  Scientists have long predicted that acidification will be harmful to shellfish, crustaceans, corals, plankton -- any ocean creature with a hardened shell or calcified parts -- because acidic water impairs the ability to build shells.  Recent studies have confirmed this impact and demonstrated additional effects of acidification on marine life, including: 


· One sea creature that has scientists particularly worried is the pterapod, called “the potato chips of the ocean” in a recent Christian Science Monitor article. Pterapods already exude a coating onto their shells as an adaptation to acidic waters because many spend their juvenile phase near upwellings of acidic water from the bottom of the sea that circulates naturally. However, if acidity increases at predicted rates, this adaptation may not be enough, and all the larger marine animals that depend on a plentiful pterapod population may suffer.


· The effects of ocean acidification on fish have been less documented than the effects on crabs, lobsters, and corals. However one new study from the University of British Columbia discusses a possible issue. The Province summarizes, “Fish, of course, breathe water, but like humans they need to take in oxygen and eliminate carbon dioxide (CO2). To get rid of the CO2, fish rely on a differential between the amount of that compound in their bodies and the amount in the water….. Because the concentration of CO2 within the fish is far higher than in the seawater, they can rid their bodies of the compound effectively. Increasing the amount of CO2 in the water makes it harder for a fish to expel it from their bodies.” Even if fish only lose a small percent of their total energy because of the extra effort it takes to expel CO2, the cumulative results could have major effects on the ocean food web.


· Also worrisome: a recent study backed by the United Nations confirmed that the ocean absorbs about a third of global carbon emissions, gases that would otherwise go into the atmosphere. However the ocean may be losing some of its capacity to absorb carbon, meaning that the terrestrial effects of global warming could be amplified in coming years as more carbon remains in the atmosphere.


    An additional impact of climate change on fisheries is the deteriorating state of freshwater and estuarine ecosystems worldwide.  The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is not the only river system that is experiencing ecological devastation because of human activities combined with drought.  All over the world, climate change will cause shortages of freshwater, at the same time as population growth demands increased supplies.  The ecosystem is the big loser in these situations, and anadromous and freshwater fish populations depended on by millions of people will have trouble compensating for the lack of habitat.  


    For more information about the effects of climate change on world oceans, see this 13 December article from The Province, www.theprovince.com/entertainment/Acidification+threatens+world+fish+species/2335729/story.html.  An exceptionally informative article from The Ecologist came out on 10 December at www.theecologist.co.uk/News/news_round_up/378686/ocean_acidification_the_facts.html.  A report from the UN synthesizing much of what we currently know about ocean acidification is at www.cbd.int/doc/publications/cbd-ts-46-en.pdf  The 15 December Christian Science Monitor mentioned it at www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2009/1215/At-Copenhagen-global-warming-conference-alarms-on-ocean-acidification. 

    15:37/05.  NEW SALMON WATER NOW VIDEO LAUNCHED:  "Science, Politics, and Salmon" is the latest video from Bruce Tokars and Salmon Water Now.  The documentary investigates the ailing Central Valley, California salmon runs, concluding that the major reason for the recent population collapse is an absence of freshwater in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  Dan Bacher, in the Fish Sniffer, reviewed the video, calling it "the best documentary I've seen yet on the real reason for the collapse of Central Valley salmon runs -- massive water exports from the California Delta to subsidized corporate agribusiness."  Bacher encouraged "everybody concerned about the destruction of California's salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, striped bass and other fisheries by agribusiness and southern California water interests to watch and share this video."


    Agriculture lobbyists have attempted to downplay the correlation between ample freshwater and salmon survival, claiming that water quantity is irrelevant so long as issues like pollution and habitat loss remain. Tokar's emphasis on the necessity for freshwater flows is a welcome reality check.  
    "Science, Politics, and Salmon" is available to view at Vimeo, at http://vimeo.com/8163239, and on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gc5LC3HGWgE&fmt=18.  For more videos, photos, and articles visit the Salmon Water Now website, www.salmonwaternow.org.  To read more of Dan Bacher's review, go to www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/12/14/18632632.php.


    15:37/06.  CALIFORNIA STATE WATER BOARD NOTICE OF PUBLIC INFORMATION PROCEEDING AND PRE-PROCEEDING CONFERENCE:  The State Water Board has announced the dates for its conference regarding the development of flow standards for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem to protect public trust resources.  The pre-proceeding conference will be 7 January 2010 starting at 1000 HRS, in the Coastal Hearing Room at 1001 “I” St, in Sacramento, CA.  The Proceeding will run from 22-24 March starting at 0900 HRS in the same room.


    Updating flow criteria is necessary to comply with Senate Bill No. 1 of the 2009-2010 Seventh Extraordinary Session (Stats.2009 (7th Ex. Sess.) ch 5, A 39) (SB 1). Notices of Intent to Appear at this informational proceeding are due by January 5, 2010.  Questions regarding this proceeding should be directed to Phillip Crader, Senior Environmental Scientist, at (916) 341-5438 or pcrader@waterboards.ca.gov, or Erin Mahaney, Senior Staff Counsel, at (916) 341-5187 or emahaney@waterboards.ca.gov.  


    15:37/07.  60 DAYS ADDED TO COMMENT PERIOD FOR CENTRAL VALLEY SALMON RECOVERY PLAN:  The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced an extension of the public comment period for the Draft Central Valley Salmon and Steelhead Recovery Plan for another 60 days.  NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) released the Draft Plan originally on 7 October 2009.  The 60-day long public comment period was scheduled to end on 5 December 2009, but it has now been extended another 60 days after NMFS received many requests for more time. 


    The Draft Plan addresses three Evolutionarily Significant Units (ESU) of endangered salmon in the Central Valley: the Sacramento River winter-run chinook salmon, the Central Valley spring-run 

chinook salmon, and the Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of Central Valley steelhead.


    The Draft Plan is available online at http://swr.nmfs.noaa.gov/recovery/cent-val.htm.  The new deadline for public comment is by 1700 HRS on 3 February 2010.  Written comments may be mailed to Brian Ellrott, National Marine Fisheries Service, 650 Capitol Mall, Suite 8-300, Sacramento, CA 95816. Comments may also be submitted by e-mail to: CentralValleyPlan.SWR@noaa.gov.  Include in the subject line of the e-mail comment the following identifier: “Comments on Central Valley Salmon and Steelhead Draft Plan.” Comments may also be submitted via facsimile (fax) to (916) 930-3629.


    15:37/08.   2011 FEDERAL MARINE POLICY FELLOWSHIP APPICATIONS DUE 19 FEBRUARY: The California Sea Grant College Program is now accepting applications for the Class of 2011 Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowships.  The Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Program is a National Sea Grant sponsored federal fellows program that provides a unique educational experience to students who have an interest in marine/ocean/Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources. The program matches highly qualified graduate students with hosts in the legislative branch, executive branch, or appropriate associations/institutions located in the Washington, D.C. area for a one-year paid fellowship ($35,000 stipend). An additional $9,000 will be used to cover mandatory health insurance for fellows, moving expenses, academic degree-related and fellowship-related travel.
    The full request for application and application guidelines are available on California Sea Grant's Knauss website at www.csgc.ucsd.edu/EDUCATION/KNAUSS/Knauss_current.html.


    For more detailed information about host offerings, selection process and the placement process in Washington D.C., please visit the  National Sea Grant Knauss website at www.seagrant.noaa.gov/knauss/knauss.html.  Application Deadline: Friday, 19 February 2010.


    15:37/09.   OCEAN YEARBOOK CALL FOR PAPERS: The Ocean Yearbook is soliciting articles for its 25th Volume.    Research articles and think-pieces on ocean governance, living resources, non-living ocean resources, ocean acidification, ocean renewable energy, transportation and communications, environment and coastal management, maritime security, military activities, regional developments, training and education, and ocean polar issues will be considered.  The deadline for submission is March 31, 2010.  More details online at http://law.dal.ca/Files/MEL_Institute/OYB/OYB_2009/Call_For_Papers_Volume_25-2009.pdf. 
    The Ocean Yearbook also has an annual competition for students writing research papers on marine affairs subjects, and it awards a Student Prize each year.  The deadline for submission of student papers is May 15, 2010.  More details are online at http://law.dal.ca/Files/MEL_Institute/OYB/OYB_2009/Student_Prize_2010.pdf.


    15:37/10.   NMFS SEEKS COMMENTS ON PROPOSED RULE REVISING NATIONAL STANDARD 2 TO THE MAGNUSON-STEVENS ACT:  From FishNews: "The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) proposes revisions to the guidelines for National Standard 2 (NS2) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation & Management Act (MSA) regarding scientific information. This action is necessary to provide guidance on the use of best scientific information available (BSIA) for the effective conservation and management of the nation's living marine resources. NMFS proposes to modify the existing NS2 guidelines on BSIA and establish new guidelines for scientific peer review to ensure the reliability, credibility, and integrity of the scientific information used in fishery conservation and management measures. 


    In addition, NMFS is proposing to add language to the guidelines regarding the role of the Scientific & Statistical Committees (SSCs) of the Regional Fishery Management Councils (Councils), and the relationship of SSCs to the peer review process. The proposed NS2 guidelines will also clarify the content and purpose of the Stock Assessment & Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) Report and related documents. These actions are necessary to ensure the use of BSIA in the development of fishery management plans and plan amendments, as required by NS2 of the MSA. The intended effect of these actions is to ensure that scientific information, including its collection and analysis, has been validated through formal peer review or other appropriate review, is transparent, and is used appropriately by SSCs, Councils, and NMFS in the conservation and management of marine fisheries. These guidelines are designed to provide quality standards for the collection and provision of biological, ecological, economic, and sociological information to fishery managers, Councils, and the public, while recognizing regional differences in fisheries and their management." Comments on the proposed rule, published at 74 Fed. Reg. 65724 (11 December 2009) at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-29589.pdf, must be received by March 11, 2010. 



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