Bacher, Dan

Dan Bacher is an editor of The Fish Sniffer, described as "The #1 Newspaper in the World Dedicated Entirely to Fishermen."

Bill To Label GE Fish Fails in California Legislature

By Dan Bacher

You would think that a simple bill requiring the labeling of Frankenfish would pass easily through the California Legislature.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, since Assemblymembers apparently beholden to the bioegineering and biotechnology industry voted last week against a bill, AB 88, that would have required that all genetically engineered (GE) fish sold in California contain clear and prominent labeling.

The legislation, authored by Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-6), failed in the Assembly Appropriations Committee by a vote of 9-7. Assemblymembers Harkey, Calderon, Hall, Nielson, Norby, Solorio, Wagner, Campos and Donnelly voted no on the bill, while Fuentes, Bradford, Chesbro, Gatto, Hill, Ammiano and Mitchell voted yes.

Assemblymember Blumenfield, who voted for the bill last May, was out of the room during the vote.

Conservation Groups, Winnemem Wintu Appeal Reduction of Salmon Protections

By Dan Bacher

A broad coalition of commercial and recreational salmon fishing groups, conservation organizations and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe today filed an appeal with the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to fully reinstate a federal water management plan intended to protect threatened Chinook salmon and steelhead throughout the Central Valley.

The "biological opinion," issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service, functions as a water management plan governing huge water diversions in the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary as well as dams on most major Central Valley rivers, according to a news release from the groups and Tribe.

Delta Advocates Blast Flaws in Tainted PPIC Report

By Dan Bacher

Restore the Delta is challenging the accuracy and value of the Public Policy Institute’s controversial "report" on the Delta, "Transitions for the Delta Economy," funded by the Stephen Bechtel Foundation, Resources Legacy Fund and David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

In the report's summary, the Public Policy Institute (PPIC) proclaimed, "Enormous changes—from natural forces to management decisions—are coming to California’s fragile Delta region and will have broad effects on its residents. This report finds that in the first half of this century, the Delta as a whole is likely to experience a loss of 1 percent of economic activity as a result of these changes. It also identifies planning priorities for managing the Delta’s future."

The full report is available at

Huber Reintroduces Bill to Protect Delta From Peripheral Canal

By Dan Bacher

Assemblymember Alyson L. Huber (D-El Dorado Hills) has re-introduced legislation, A.B. 550, that would prohibit the construction of a peripheral canal around the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta without a full fiscal analysis and a vote of the state legislature.

"Please stand with me as I continue the fight to protect one of our region's most vital natural resources: The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta," said Huber. "I believe this legislation is critical to ensuring oversight over one of the largest infrastructure projects California has seen in decades."

Assembly Bill 550 will be heard in the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife at the State Capitol, Room 437, January 10 at 9 a.m. Space is limited in the hearing room, so please arrive early if you would like a seat.

Delta Smelt Population Improves As Canal Plans Ramp Up

By Dan Bacher

The abundance of endangered Delta smelt, an indicator species that demonstrates the health of the imperiled Bay-Delta ecosystem, was greater in 2011 than it has been any year since 2001.

Yet state fishery biologists note that population remains a small fraction of historical abundance. "The improvement is likely due in large part to higher than usual Delta outflow which resulted in more and better habitat," according to Marty Gingras, DFG fishery biologist, in a press release on December 23.

The high flows resulted in keeping the Delta smelt away from the state and federal pumping facilities in the South Delta, where millions of Sacramento splittail and other fish were killed this year. Only 51 Delta smelt were "salvaged" in the pumping facilities that export water to southern California water agencies and corporate growers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley in 2011.

Brown, Salazar Reaffirm 'Mutual Resolve' to Build Peripheral Canal

By Dan Bacher

California Governor Jerry Brown and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on December 19 reaffirmed their "strong mutual resolve" to moving forward with the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build a peripheral canal, in spite of strong opposition by Delta advocates.

They also "reinforced their joint commitment to effective action to achieve the dual goals of a healthy San Francisco Bay Delta ecosystem and a reliable water supply for California," the same dual goals that doomed the CalFed program to failure.

Brown and Salazar announced several actions that they claimed will "ensure a fair, open and transparent process" and a full opportunity for input by all interested parties" in the development of a plan to address the future of California’s San Francisco Bay Delta. These actions included revisions to the draft BDCP Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) they contend are "responsive to the comments received by a wide range of water stakeholders in recent weeks."

Westlands Official Working for DWR on Bay Delta Conservation Plan

By Dan Bacher

An employee of the Westlands Water District is currently working “on loan” for the Department of Water Resources (DWR) on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), the plan initiated by state and federal water contractors to allow them to build a peripheral canal or tunnel in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

Documents obtained by this reporter under the California Public Records Act reveal that Susan Ramos, Deputy General Manager of the Westlands Water District, was hired in an inter-jurisdictional personal exchange agreement between the Department of Water Resources and Westlands Water District from November 15, 2009 through December 31, 2010.

The contract was extended to run through December 31, 2011 and again to continue through December 31, 2012.

The Dolphin Group and the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta

By Dan Bacher

"The Dolphin Group" would at first appear to be a group of environmental activists dedicated to looking out for the welfare of dolphins or other aquatic creatures.

However, it is in reality a 37-year-old political consulting firm with offices in Los Angeles and Sacramento, revealed Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta. The Dolphin Group specializes "in helping clients identify challenges and opportunities, anticipate and navigate potential problems and to fulfill and leverage public affairs objectives."

State and Feds Announce Release of Delta Studies After Massive Complaints

By Dan Bacher

The state and federal governments on November 29 announced they plan to release Delta science studies in response to the voluminous comments they received criticizing a controversial agreement that fast-tracks the construction of the peripheral canal under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).

Tuesday's press release from the U.S. Department of Interior claimed that Interior, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the California Natural Resources Agency and the California Department of Water Resources "announced a first step in responding to public comments on a draft Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with California water agencies that will enhance transparency in developing the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) by speeding access to draft technical documents."

"This initial step will be followed by additional responses to public comments that have been filed on the MOA," Interior noted.

Occupy the Ocean, Occupy the Delta

By Dan Bacher

As the Occupy movement spreads throughout the nation and world, sustainable fishing communities, consumer groups and grassroots environmentalists have mobilized to stop the 1 percent from stealing ocean public trust resources from the 99 percent.

This week the U.S. Congress, in a backroom deal, shelved a vote on a critical bill that would have continued a recently instituted ban on a wasteful government program that gives large corporations control of the nation’s fishery resources, in effect privatizing the ocean's public trust resources.