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Appeals Court upholds delta smelt protections


A federal appeals court has upheld the constitutionality of Endangered Species Act protections for the Delta smelt, rejecting claims by a conservative legal organization.

In an opinion released Friday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling in favor of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which has restricted water deliveries from Northern California to stave off the smelt’s extinction.

The Sacramento-based Pacific Legal Foundation, representing several San Joaquin Valley nut growers, argued that the Endangered Species Act did not apply to the smelt because it lives only in California, has no commercial value and therefore was outside of congressional authority under the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The 9th Circuit agreed with the lower court, finding that the smelt protections were valid because they were related to commerce.

The case is one in a series of lawsuits that have been filed in a tangled legal battle over the effect of environmental regulations on water exports from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.


A small fish caught in a big fuss          

--Bettina Boxall

Photo: The delta smelt. Credit: UC Davis

Comments () | Archives (8)

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Why not just put metal screens in place to keep the smelt from going into the water pipes? That way, everyone is happy.

This may have the side effect of increased salmon production, but in case you didn't know it, not everyone can afford to buy salmon. I'm sure Jessie Raeder and Salmon Water Now fall into that "elite" class that don't need to consider their food budget when ordering salmon for lunch or taking home salmon from the fish market, but most of us do not fall into that category.

In fact, most of us depend on the nuts, fruits, and vegetables that the Central Valley used to produce in abundance for US households to be supplied with, especially in the winter season. Now, we are sending our money to Mexican and South American growers and distributors for this same product while nut trees die for lack of water in California, and fruits and vegetables are out of production there as well.

Enjoy your salmon.

I dont get how its so hard to pick between a fish, not even native to this country, and the people we feed from the central valley...i mean we can always get more from where they came from but we can get crops growing and food produced at the speed of a requests for shouldnt be this hard...

Which came first?

The Man Made delta
the delta smelt?

the assylum of CA being run by the lunatics

Fish or people? Who survives? Time to choose, people.

This is great news. I'm not sure if this was part of the decision, but when we restricted pumping to help the smelt, that helped salmon recover as well. Though the salmon are still at super low numbers compared to what they should be, the fact is that the pumping restrictions 3 years ago (2008-2009) contributed to the slight uptick in 2011's projected salmon returns - it takes salmon approximately 3 years to come back as adults to spawn. As someone who works with and talks with salmon fishermen, I can tell you that that absolutely has an effect on commerce. Salmon fishing - both commercial and recreational and all the associated businesses like tourism - is huge business for the economy of California, and these protections are crucial for reviving that business.

Regardless of the direct effects of the pumping restrictions helping salmon - it's also clear to me (and hopefully anyone who remembers 4th grade biology) that the food chain is important, and while the delta smelt might be small, they are an important part of a delicate ecosystem, and they are worth saving in their own right.

This is great news for salmon fishermen, fishing jobs and West Coast seafood production. The smelt protections that came on board in 2008 also provided better conditions for outmigrating baby salmon traveling through the Delta during 2008-2009. Now those salmon are coming back as adults in 2011, putting fishermen and fishing businesses back to work along 1,000 miles of coastline. This comes after 3 years of economic disaster caused by the salmon-killing water policy we had in the Delta before 2008.

I don't get it the Delta Smelt is a freaking trash fish good for nothing except fertilizer. If it were a necessary species it would find a way to adapt and survive. But since it has reached the end of it evolutionary development wee have now to put people out of work and inflate the cost of produce.

Stupid just plain stupid!!


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