San Joaquin River Group Authority
Wed, 20 Apr 2011
The following e-mail message was sent Wednesday, the 20th, to the Pacific Fishery Management Council, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
My first represents the San Joaquin River Group Authority (“SJRGA”), a California joint power authority consisting of irrigation and water districts in the San Joaquin River Basin. The SJRGA’s member agencies have various riparian, pre-1914, and post-1914 water rights to the San Joaquin River and its tributaries. They own and operate the major non-state and non-federal facilities and supply water and power to millions of people throughout northern California. Its member agencies have made, and are making, significant efforts to preserve and restore Central Valley Chinook. Among these efforts are the Vernalis Adaptive Management Plan and San Joaquin River Restoration Program. Nonetheless, with the trend over time in declining Central Valley Chinook stocks and recent population crash in 2007-2009, the SJRGA member agencies are under increasing pressure from state and federal regulatory agencies to bypass flows, release stored water, and take other actions necessary to restore the fisheries. Meanwhile, many of these same agencies authorize high levels of ocean fishing. Although Central Valley Chinook abundance is rebounding, it has not recovered. Nonetheless, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (“Council”), on April 13, 2011, adopted recommended fishing regulations allowing high levels of harvest along in fisheries populated by Central Valley Chinook. The SJRGA member agencies have no wish to give up water diverted and used pursuant to their water rights to mitigate for ocean fishing.
The SJRGA will therefore be filing an action for declaratory and injunctive relief in the United States District Court in Eastern District of California, specifically Fresno. Defendants are the Department of Commerce, NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service, the Southwest and Northwest Regions of the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Pacific Fishery Management Council. Although not assured, it is expected that this case will be assigned to the Honorable Judge Oliver Wanger.
Although the 2011 regulations have not been noticed in the Federal Register and are not yet effective. The Council anticipated forwarding its recommendations to NMFS and issuing its final report by May 1, 2011, but the season for much of the California coast is set to open on May 1, 2011. In past years, Federal Register notice of the 2011 fishing regulations has not been issued until after May 1, but made the regulations effective retroactive to May 1. The SRGA does not want fishing occurring before it can get a hearing on a temporary restraining order. We plan on filing the complaint and motion this week. The motion for a temporary restraining order will seek to enjoin the 2011 fishing regulations for the Pacific Ocean fisheries south of Cape Falcon. We do not yet have a hearing date, but you will be served with it once the Court assigns a date.
Please contact me if you have any questions or wish to discuss this matter.
O'Laughlin & Paris LLP
117 Meyers St., Suite 110
P.O. Box 9259
Chico, CA 95927-9259
It looks like a big bag of suck. That, of course, is my personal opinion, and in no way is reflective of the views of Lawson's Landing Inc. or any business affiliated with it. But if I were you, I'd go fishing. Quick.