Published online by Cambridge University Press: 18 February 2021
Many of California’s anadromous and freshwater fisheries are now in sharp decline. Salmon and steelhead trout runs throughout the state, as well as the delta smelt, are currently designated as endangered under federal law.
In addition to the biodiversity loss associated with the decline of these fisheries, the collapse of California’s salmon stocks has had severe economic impacts on the state’s commercial fishery sector – from the fishermen who catch the salmon, to those who service salmon fishing boats, to those who ultimately sell salmon to customers in markets and restaurants. All of these people whose jobs and livelihoods are involved in California’s fishing sector have taken a financial hit as the state’s salmon stocks have plummeted. As explained by the Golden State Salmon Association, an organization that works on behalf of commercial salmon fishermen in Northern California, “For many of us, salmon provides the income we use to keep a roof over our family’s head.”1
In recent decades, commercial fishermen, Native American tribes, and other fishery conservation stakeholders have relied extensively on a set of federal laws and federal agencies to keep water instream for California fisheries.