Delta Fish Counts Are Discouraging

Delta Fish Counts Are Discouraging

Reductions Don’t Consider Estuary’s Many Other Habitat, Water Quality Stressors

New counts of six Delta fish species showed discouraging reductions in numbers during 2012.
A trawl-net survey within the estuary conducted last fall after a very dry water year showed that fish population gains realized during 2011 – a very wet year – were lost, according to the recently renamed California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The Sacramento Bee labeled the ongoing situation “a severe population crash” for the six species.
One species, the non-native threadfin shad, reportedly had a record low population measured.


Biologists consider Delta fish population counts to be an important barometer of estuary health.
On the other hand, the California Farm Water Coalition observed in a response provided to the media, “It is not a surprise that the fish counts are low when one considers that the only effort undertaken by officials governing Delta water is to reduce water deliveries. These reductions have been instituted for years and yet the fish continue to decline. Cutting back water deliveries is not the answer.
“Other actions should be taken that address poor water quality, predatory fish and invasive species. We can no longer simply say that fish need more and more water. It’s more complicated than that. … Continuing to use old solutions to today’s complex problems doesn’t cut it anymore, especially when the old ways aren’t providing any improvements in the system.”

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