A tale of two predatory species
Rep. Dennis Cardoza, of Annapolis MD, has never met an endangered species he doesn't want to kick into extinction. He is undoubtedly afraid of the race horses he owns but thoroughbreds aren't an endangered species. However, a fairy shrimp, a three-inch smelt or a salmon smolt? Species that are down on their luck due to the pressures of man, the species destroying the global environment for everyone, even itself? When Cardoza sees a species like that, subject to endangered species regulations that might interfere with one of his contributors, he gets all puffed up and mean. How dare such insignificant creatures stand between a developer or agribusinessman and his next million! It's immoral.
Cardoza & Co. regard the striped bass as an exotic predator that is one of the main causes of the decline of several endangered species in the San Joaquin Delta. Set aside that the stripers have been an established game species in the Delta for more than a century and the crash of endangered species in the Delta has occurred simultaneously with increased demands of agribusiness, Santa Clara and Southern California for Delta water in the last decade.
However, there is another class of predators preying on the Delta and its species. Four of the five counties in the nation that receive the largest amounts of agricultural subsidies all draw water from the Delta -- Colusa from above it, Fresno, Tulare and Kern conties from below it. These are the predators that use subsidized water to grow subsidized crops gobbling up public funds like the stripers feed on smelt. And when they are finished using the water for irrigation, it is drained from their fields, full of pesticides, salts and heavy metals. Until prohibited some of the largest users of Delta water were using the Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge for their toxic drainage, where it was killing the wildlife the refuge was supposed to protect. The killing goes on in smaller "sumps" storing ag runoff. Then what about the number of ground-nesting birds killed by swathers every year? Hunters grow more and more reluctant to eat the ducks they shoot in the westside wetlands because of contamination from the habitat.
So, who's the predator, the striper or Congressman Afraid-of-his-horses?
Badlands Journal editorial board
Cardoza praises likely easing of rules for bass…Merced Sun-Star
WASHINGTON — Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, praised a pending court settlement that likely would ease government regulations protecting the striped bass in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The non-native striped bass feeds on native species, including the endangered delta smelt and young salmon in delta waterways. In recent years, water supplies to San Joaquin Valley farmers have been significantly reduced as a result of federal regulations designed to protect the smelt and salmon populations.
Cardoza has long argued that other causes, including predation by non- native fish like the striped bass, should be considered by government agencies, according to a news release.
"This pending settlement is a significant step forward in our fight for responsible, balanced management of our fisheries and water resources," Cardoza said in the release.
"For years, our farmers in the valley have been bearing the full burden of policies intended to protect the delta smelt, while the government turns a blind eye to other serious threats to this endangered species. I have fought to bring common sense and fairness to California's resource policies, and this settlement moves us in the right direction."
The legal settlement announced last week, which is awaiting approval by a federal judge, requires the California Department of Fish and Game to change the size and number of striped bass that fishermen can keep.
The lawsuit was filed in 2008 by the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta and alleges that catch limits imposed by state officials have allowed the striped bass to flourish, contributing to steep population declines in several native fish species in the delta.
Cardoza has argued that the delta is affected by multiple environmental stressors, including urban runoff, waste-water discharges and non-native predatory fish, such as the striped bass.
Last year, he called on state and federal agencies to stop programs that protect the striped bass until they take into consideration their impact on native delta smelt and salmon, the news release said.
"Native fish populations are at record low levels and water deliveries through the Delta have been significantly reduced in an effort to protect delta smelt and salmon species with little discernible benefit," Cardoza wrote in a 2010 letter to the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the governor of California.
A tale of two predatory species