Speaking of fish, let’s see how many they can kill

Last week, Dan Bacher reported that a mind-boggling 11 million fish have been “salvaged” at the export pumps since January 1.  “Salvaged” pretty much means “killed,” since the majority of many species perish during and after the salvage process, including handling and trucking operations.

The losses include close to 9 million Sacramento splittail, the largest number ever recorded.  Department of Fish and Game staff recorded a total of 46 species “salvaged”, including threadfin and American shad, striped bass and largemouth bass, white catfish, Chinook salmon, steelhead, smelt, bluegill, and sturgeon. 

Bacher cites “A Review of Delta Fish Population Losses from Pumping Operations in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta,” prepared by Larry Walker Associates in January 2010 for the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District (http://www.srcsd.com/pdf/dd/fishlosses.pdf). According to that report, salvage statistics “greatly understate the total number of fish entrained, since they do not include the number of fish lost to predators or lost through the fish screens.  In fact, recent estimates indicate that 5-10 times more fish are lost than are salvaged, largely due to the high predation losses in and around water project facilities.”

And while all this carnage has been taking place at the pumps, Delta water exports are heading for an all-time high in 2011. 

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