AB 1032 Creates Negative Impact on fish populations!
Dredging creates Net Improvement in fish populations!
Synopsis: Dredging is logically far more likely to cause a Net Improvement in fish populations. AB 1032 would reverse this trend and create what it hopes to avoid.
It is alleged by environmentalists that new loose gravel beds created by dredging create new spawning beds for fish, but that new fish eggs are blown out during spring runoff. What this logic fails to address is the more obvious probability that there is a Net Increase in fish populations from dredging for all the following reasons:
Who is to say that fish populations are not increased as a result of new clean gravel beds created by dredgers?
Considering California’s frequent drought years, and low snow fall winters, how many springs is there a snow melt and runoff high enough to blow out fresh gravel beds? (As in 2007’s very low spring water levels) Even if it were 3 out of 6 years with high flows, who is to say that the net gain in fish populations in the 3 low flow years does not far out weigh the possible loss of “some” (not all, since it can’t be proven) eggs in the other 3 years. The study that proposes this negative impact, in fact is based on the known fact that fish prefer these fresh loose gravel beds for spawning, when they can find them. So if a fish can find these scarce new gravel beds found in less than 95% of their habitat since dredging was not performed there, how can it be shown that the benefits from dredging created fresh gravel beds does not cause a Net Increase in populations? Or, if less than 5% of fish have the option of spawning in a fresh gravel bed, and 50% of their fry survive, vs 10% in an old gravel bed, 95% of spawns are unaffected by dredging and 5% of spawns are increased dramatically. This would not result in a net decrease in populations.
Gold is most often dredged from low pressure/ slow flow areas where it commonly deposits. Since this is a place where the water flows less swiftly than the faster center stream area, loss of fish eggs during the higher flows of spring runoff is far less likely. So who is to say that these fresh gravel beds in slow flow areas do not cause a significant Net Increase in fish populations, even in high flow years.
Fresh gravel bed blowout during spring runoff, while it may cause loss of “some” fish eggs the first swift water year, leaves behind a more stationary and quality gravel bed which will be even more likely to hold fish eggs the following years. The result of these new looser fresh gravel beds created by dredgers and nature together, provide a more inviting and productive environment for fish to lay their eggs. Before the first swift water year, eggs are more likely deposited and successfully hatched in a dredger’s fresh new gravel beds, which even environmentalist admit prefer this environment for spawning. If there is even a 50% increase in fry hatches in 50% of the years following formation of these new spawning beds, who is to say that this alone does not create a Net Increase in fish populations, over fish trying to spawning in hard bottom stream beds which have not been turned over and loosened up for 1,2 or 3 decades by a good natural flood, which is the only way for nature to create new spawning beds. In a hard compacted stream bed, how many fish eggs are lost initially and blown downstream by the mere fact that there is not enough loose gravel to capture and hold the freshly spawned eggs? 50%? More? If dredging is stopped, how many more fish eggs will be laid in these unfavorable conditions and lost by blowout downstream at time of spawn? So who is to say that fresh gravel beds, which obviously create more favorable conditions do not cause a Net Increase in fish populations? (The suggestion or even proof of one negative fact that “might happen” as a result of an activity, cannot prove a net negative impact from that activity.)
If there is no proof of Net Negative Impact on fisheries by dredgers, how can one person have the authority to prohibit it at will?
So who will have the authority to decide if there is a net negative impact on fish populations? A single person in a single state department? How would that person be able to prove there is not a Net Improvement in fish populations from dredging? They cannot! So how can they have the authority to restrict dredging in any one stream or river? Until someone can prove a net negative from dredging, perhaps it would be best to leave current regulations in effect, since they already protect spawning seasons and small fish hatch by stopping dredging during 8 months of each year in already protected waters. A conclusive EIR should be required for each stream and river proving what is the primary reason for depletion of fisheries, before anyone can close it to that activity. I believe any attempt at such an EIR aimed at proving dredging was even a significant cause of lower fish populations would be unsuccessful, if all possible causes were studied in detail and over many years.
Why isn’t the primary cause of fisheries depletion being addressed?
If you are concerned about decreasing fish populations, why wouldn’t you stop the taking of fish from the subject waters long enough for them to grow back to normal levels? Is the DFG simultaneously doing this in the streams and rivers they are proposing to close to dredging? No? Why not? Why isn’t there also a prohibition of the taking of fish by anglers when these waters will be closed to dredging? Is not the removal of fish from these waters by anglers a far more serious cause of depletion of these fisheries? Has anyone ever proven a single fish was killed or removed from a waterway by a gold dredge? The answer is NO! Why? Because it is nearly impossible to harm a fish with a dredge, unlike the high percentage of fish killed by catching and returning to a river after fatal hook removal. How many fish a day die from such acts by anglers? Hundreds? How many die from dredging? Not one. So who is clearly doing the most damage to fish populations? Anglers! Not Dredgers. For every female fish caught and killed or taken, how many potential thousand offspring are removed from a stream? How many anglers are out there doing exactly this to fish populations? The result is the Net Loss of millions of fish each year caused by tens of thousands of licensed anglers killing potential new fish. When compared to anglers, all Dredgers should be given a Medal for never having killed a fish while dredging, and for improving fish breeding potential by creating new spawning beds.
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