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Senate Approves Wiggins’ Salmon Bill

June 2009

The state Senate voted 23-10 Monday to approve legislation by North Coast Sen. Patricia Wiggins, D-Eureka, that aims to enhance efforts to save the state’s imperiled salmon and steelhead populations.

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Wiggins’ bill, Senate Bill 539, would add projects to restore native salmon and steelhead trout populations to the list of eligible uses of the Ocean Protection Trust Fund.

“For the second year in a row, California’s oceans are closed to commercial salmon fishing,” Wiggins said while presenting the bill, according to a press release. “This bill will give the OPC the clarity it needs to dedicate existing funding to salmon restoration, and to coordinate with the state Department of Fish and Game, the state and local water boards, the Coastal Conservancy and others to concentrate before it is too late.”

Wiggins said that while the OPC has engaged in fisheries management issues, it has not yet focused much attention on the collapse of California’s salmon which is not only a commercial disaster but indicative of a water-related environmental disaster as well.

A recent report by CalTrout, authored in part by Peter Moyle of U.C. Davis, said that the state’s native salmonids are in unprecedented decline, and are teetering toward the brink of extinction.

The report concluded that if present trends continue, 65 percent of native salmon, steelhead and other trout species will be extinct within the next century.

With Senate approval, S.B. 539 is headed to the Assembly for consideration.