Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Smelt Hatcheries

Great idea to save the Delta smelt, which are threatened primarily by the pumps moving water from the Delta to farms and communities.

By replacing those lost to the pumps, the pumps are able to keep pumping water rather than being curtailed due to declining smelt; as has happened recently.

Lawmaker proposes hatchery expansion to save Delta smelt from extinction
By Mike Taugher
Staff Writer
Article Launched: 04/21/2008 06:04:37 PM PDT

A San Joaquin Valley lawmaker wants to ease restrictions on water supplies by boosting the number of endangered fish raised in hatcheries.

State Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, introduced his bill to do that in response to a court ruling last year that cut the amount of water available for pumping out of the Delta by as much as one-third to protect Delta smelt.

His idea is to raise enough fish to remove Delta smelt from the list of threatened and endangered species, which would eliminate the endangered species law mandate to protect the fish from Delta pumps.

"The fate of the fish in some ways is tied to the fate of the farmers," said Jason Peltier, deputy general manager of the Westlands Water District and supporter of the bill. "We need more smelt in the system."

Critics immediately faulted the idea. They contended that increasing hatchery production of fish would not address the larger problems in the Delta, where Delta smelt and three other open-water species have declined precipitously.