As if the Delta smelt wasn't enough... Chinook collapse in Sacramento Delta
For Californians wrestling with how to manage the needs of the Delta smelt and the need for regional water deliveries, (see ESAblawg, Dec.14, 2007) the difficulties in the Sacramento Delta keep getting worse. According to a January 30, 2008 press packet release by the Pacific Fishery Management Council, "California Central Valley fall Chinook salmon stocks appear to be undergoing a significant decline."
Perhaps most notably, the count of "jacks" -- or immature fish that return to the rivers at age two (unlike the adults that return at age three or four) -- has fallen to 2,000, compared to an average of nearly 40,000 and a prior low of 10,000. The number of jacks are used to forecast future returns.
Chinook salmon photo from NMFS
The chinook represents yet another suffering indicator species in the region, and its decline will have economic impacts on the recreational and commercial fisheries, as well as the inevitable effects on ESA implementation and litigation.
For more news coverage, visit Environment News Service (Jan. 28, 2008) and ENN (Jan. 31, 2008).