ICYMI: California Secures More Than $20 Million in Federal Funds to Support Salmon Fisheries

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: $20.6 million in federal funding has been allocated to support California fishing communities impacted by the 2023 fishery resource disaster. The impacts of prolonged drought, wildfires and other environmental factors resulted in some of the lowest ocean salmon stocks on record. Governor Newsom last week unveiled the state’s first-ever strategy to protect salmon from drought and climate change impacts.

SACRAMENTO – Following the Newsom Administration’s request for a Federal Fishery Disaster Declaration amid dramatic declines in key salmon stocks in 2023, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced $20.6 million to support impacted fishing communities in California, including commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen, subsistence users and charter businesses.

Activities that can be considered for the funding include fishery-related infrastructure projects, habitat restoration, job retraining and more. Some fishery-related businesses affected by the fishery disaster may also be eligible for assistance from the Small Business Administration.

To protect salmon populations amidst hotter and drier weather exacerbated by climate change, Governor Newsom last week announced the state’s multi-pronged strategy in partnership with tribal nations, federal agencies and others.

“This funding will bring much-needed relief for fishing communities and tribal nations bearing the brunt of a decades-long decline in salmon populations amid intensifying climate impacts. California is strengthening partnerships and taking bold action to help this treasured cultural, commercial and environmental resource recover and thrive.” Governor Gavin Newsom

The Newsom Administration and Legislature have advanced $796.4 million in investments over the last three years to help stabilize and recover salmon populations. Recent actions include:

Largest Dam Removal in History: Restoring the Klamath River, which was once a prodigious producer of salmon, by removing four obsolete hydroelectric dams. One dam was taken down last September and the rest are slated for removal by November 2024, restoring nearly 400 miles of once-blocked river to salmon, steelhead, lamprey and other native fish species.

Bringing Fish Back to Historical Habitat: Moving endangered adult winter-run and threatened spring-run Chinook salmon to the upper reaches of Sacramento River tributaries at the height of the 2020-2022 drought, where colder water temperatures better support spawning and help salmon eggs survive. This effort returned adult winter-run to the North Fork of Battle Creek for the first time in more than 110 years.

Doing the Science: Boosting the resilience of hatchery-raised salmon with injections of thiamine (Vitamin B1) to counter a deficiency that researchers believe has depressed survival of their offspring in recent years. The deficiency has been tied to shifting ocean conditions and salmon feeding primarily on anchovies compared to a more diverse diet of forage fish, krill and other species.

Fixing the Landscape: Restoring approximately 3,000 acres of tidal wetland where the Sacramento River drains to San Francisco Bay, creating habitat beneficial to native fish and wildlife, including salmon.

Flows for Fish: In the Scott and Shasta rivers in the Klamath Basin and Mill Creek in the Sacramento Valley, beginning efforts to establish minimum instream flows while working with local partners and tribes on locally driven solutions.

Expanding Partnerships with Tribes: From signing a co-management agreement with the Winnemem Wintu Tribe to bring salmon back to the McCloud River for the first time since construction of the Shasta Dam, to investing in tribally led restoration efforts like the Oregon Gulch, Farmers’ Ditch, and post-McKinney Fire projects with the Yurok and Karuk Tribes, to beaver reintroductions and more.

Modernizing and Removing Infrastructure: Reaching agreement with local and federal partners on a framework to reopen miles of Yuba River habitat to multiple native fish species. The agreement sets the stage for the return of imperiled spring-run Chinook salmon to their native habitat in the North Yuba River for the first time in more than 100 years. And, taking the next big step with a coalition of counties, tribes, and fish conservation groups to create California’s longest free-flowing river – the Eel River – through the decommissioning of outdated infrastructure.