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Hail to the salmon chief?

March 9, 2009 |  4:12 pm

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Could there be a new big fish coming to the pond that is our nation’s capitol?

Commercial and recreational fishermen are urging President Obama to create a new position in his administration: salmon director.

But don’t be fooled by the title. The job interview won’t include a thorough vetting on sauté skills and work with a barbecue or broiler. The salmon director would develop and coordinate restoration policy in states where the tasty and environmentally troubled fish swims.

More than 75 fishing organizations from six Pacific states -– California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada and Alaska –- signed a letter sent Monday to Obama asking for the new post. Dwindling numbers of the fish have virtually shut down the West Coast's commercial salmon fishing industry over the past two seasons.

The letter urges the Obama administration to begin work immediately in creating the position to “protect and restore dwindling populations of Pacific salmon and steelhead and the tens of thousands of jobs in our states that depend upon them.”

Zeke Grader of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Assns. said creation of the position right inside the walls of the White House would “send a strong signal” to hard-hit fishing communities that the president “is committed to correcting past failure” and putting salmon on the road to recovery.

No word from Obama on the prospects for the new post.

-- Eric Bailey

Photo: A fisherman with catch. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

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