NANFA-- Where is the anger? (reoeat)

Bruce Stallsmith (
Thu, 03 Oct 2002 21:08:28 -0400

Chris Scharpf originally posted the following last March. I saved it and
think about it a lot, especially when reading about truly stoopid activities
like the importation of large Asian carps that have escaped and established
breeding populations. The ongoing crisis in the Klamath River basin in
Oregon is another example, as a large number of returning salmon in the
river died in the last weeks from poor water quality resulting from
agricultural diversion of the waters. It doesn't have to go down like

--Bruce Stallsmith
Huntsville, AL, US of A

>It seems that arguments about habitat protection rarely help and
>make enemies. People seem to bring in politics and personal views
and such
>that usually don't have anything to do with the details of the issue
>hand. Maybe a simple review of the state of our aquatic habitats and
>life would be helpful.

The following is from Peter B. Moyle, author of INLAND FISHES OF
it dates from 1995, I think.

Where is the anger? Why is there no storm of fury over a Congress that
to nullify the existence of hundreds of species? Why hasn't a ripple of
passed through the nation over the actions of politicians who would
more poisons into rivers and allow streams to run dry? Are we going to
around quietly, drinking bottled water from France, watching the fish

I wish I understood this complacency. In my office I have a map of the
Sierra Nevada that illustrates the near-disappearance of chinook salmon
once kept people awake at night from the splashing of a million tails.
California's coho salmon fisheries are nearly gone now. The fishermen
that a thousand frozen salmon from Alaska cannot replace a single coho
their catch.

Yet in the Pacific Northwest, keeping a few loggers employed for a few
(until the trees run out) or keeping a few cows grazing along unfenced
streams is regarded as worth sacrificing entire fish populations that
support future generations.

Of course, the fish (and humans) were not doing well even before the
era of "Wise Use" and congressional myopia. More than one third of all
fish species in North America are in serious decline even with the
Endangered Species Act in place. Every year, we pay more to filter the
we drink. Every year, more streams lose the vegetation along their
their runs of salmon and their ability to cleanse themselves.

My academic life has been partly spent documenting the loss of
native fishes. My first paper documented the brief return of chinook
to the Kings River in the San Joaquin Valley where it had not been seen
25 years and has not been seen since. Subsequent papers documented
declines in fishes and frogs native to the Sierra Nevada foothills. I
continue my academic studies, but for every ecological paper I publish,
publish two on species declines. In 1975, one of my students caught and
released the last known bull trout in California. Attempts to
the species have failed. Destruction of species and ecosystems is easy
cheap, restoration hard and expensive.

This year it rained in California as it has not rained for years.
are rebounding, because the water has been purified, the spawning
cleansed and riparian habitat flooded. This gives hope that salmon,
and splittail can recover if we let them. However, the drought
fish have suffered will be repeated if water diversions and
degradation continue.

Pressured by the Endangered Species Act and other environmental laws,
is an effort to negotiate solutions to California's water problems. Yet
Congress seems bent on destroying this to favor the greedy few. Where
is the
/"Unless stated otherwise, comments made on this list do not necessarily
/ reflect the beliefs or goals of the North American Native Fishes
/ Association"
/ This is the discussion list of the North American Native Fishes Association
/ To subscribe, unsubscribe, or get help, send the word
/ subscribe, unsubscribe, or help in the body (not subject) of an email to
/ For a digest version, send the command to
/ instead.
/ For more information about NANFA, visit our web page,