Saturday, November 12, 2011

Occupy’s message resonates in Delta


Occupy’s message heard in the delta

California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin river delta feels distant from the Occupy encampments of San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley, but Occupy’s message is resonating in the delta’s wetlands. The target isn’t the banks though. It’s water contractors coming after delta water.
“It’s the 1 percent coming after our water, our fish and our farms,” said delta resident Dawn Gulick in a telephone interview. The real elephant in the room is pumping, not bass predation, she said. “The pelagic organisms decline the more water they pump from the delta.”
The unlikely venue for the outpouring of outrage was a state Department of Fish and Gamehearing on proposed regulations that would raise the “bag limits” on the delta’s premier game fish, the striped bass.
The anglers see the rule change as a thinly disguised ruse to eradicate the stripers and the community that advocates for them and the delta environment, said Gulick, who owns Eddo’s Harbor & RV Park on Sherman’s Island between Antioch and Rio Vista.
Anglers said all the hearing speakers were happy with the current, more restrictive limits.
Some 350 delta residents and avid anglers attended a Nov. 8 meeting in Rio Vista to protest. Those who spoke said raising the bag limits from 2 to 6 fish, possession limits to 12 fish and establishing a striper “hot spot” in the south delta where anglers could possess up to 40 fish, would decimate the fishery.
The Fish and Game hearing was held after the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta, a Kern County agribusiness organization sued the state in federal court. The coalition has offices in the headquarters of grower and water contractor Stewart Resnick’s Paramount Farms. The suit claimed the state was violating the federal Endangered Species Act by protecting the non-native striped bass, a predator of native and endangered fish including the delta smelt. A federal judge approved a settlement in April that required the state to propose new striped bass regulations. The Fish and Game Commission will review the proposed regulations in December.
Gulick said her livelihood depends on the stripers and the middle-class recreational fishermen and both are being decimated. “I keep the CBO chart on income disparity in the country taped to my refrigerator,” she said.

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