Published February 9, 2017
District Court action forces Federal Government to Reevaluate Flows and Take Immediate Action to Prevent Fish Kills
HOOPA, CALIFORNIA – A U.S. District Court judge ruled Wednesday that federal agencies must take preventative and emergency measures to reduce the incidence of disease among juvenile salmon, the major source of mortality limiting runs of returning adults to the Klamath River and its tributaries.
This decision was welcomed by the Hoopa Valley Tribe, who initiated the lawsuit challenging the federal government’s inaction given two years of high disease rates and poor adult returns. “The Hoopa Valley Tribe depends on salmon for our livelihood and will not stand idle while our people’s culture is jeopardized” said Ryan Jackson, Chairman of the Hoopa Valley Tribe. “This decision is a win for the tribe and all communities that depend on Klamath salmon” said Jackson. In his ruling, Judge Orrick directed the Bureau of Reclamation to implement flow measures that were developed by the Tribe and supported by the best available science.
These include having more frequent peak flows and higher spring flows that are the components of a more natural hydrology for the Klamath River. “These peak flows and spring flows are intended to reduce unnaturally high levels of parasites and protect juvenile fish in the mainstem Klamath River” said Mike Orcutt, Fisheries Director. “Given the poor runs in recent years, this will provide a much needed rebalancing of water towards the needs of the fish.” Last year’s fall Chinook salmon run was one of the lowest in recent history.
Salmon protections proposed by the Tribe will remain in place until the federal agencies revise their flows in accordance with new information. “The Tribe remains vigilant and will continue fighting for the fish” said Jackson.
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