Published May 17, 2016
The Hoopa Valley Tribe has filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and NOAA Fisheries for violating the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Failure by these federal agencies to reinitiate consultation on the flawed 2013 Klamath Project Biological Opinion (BiOp) will simply add to the millions of sick and dead juvenile salmon already lost due to the Klamath Irrigation Project. High infection prevalence of the deadly salmon parasite Ceratomyxa nova has been directly linked to the Project and its effect upon natural flows in the river.
“The juvenile fish kills in 2014 and 2015, while not as noticeable to the naked eye as dead adults on the banks, are as devastating to Hupa people as the 2002 adult fish kill” said Ryan Jackson, Chairman, Hoopa Valley Tribe.
The BiOp limited the number of fish that could be harmed or killed by the Project. This threshold was knowingly violated in 2014 and 2015, with nearly 100% infection rates of juvenile salmon in those years. “Tribal and non-tribal fisheries will be substantially depressed as adult salmon which out-migrated in 2014 return in record low numbers this year and next” said Mike Orcutt, Hoopa Fisheries Director. BOR and NMFS have refused to take appropriate actions to make sure this does not happen again and have clearly violated the ESA by not reinitiating consultation. Continued catastrophic losses of salmon can be expected in the Klamath Basin given this inaction by the agencies. “Despite numerous attempts to make this right with the agencies, their lack of action has required us to take legal action to protect our fishery and way of life” said Jackson.
The Hoopa Valley Tribe inhabits the largest reservation in California and is one of only two tribes in the state with federally reserved fishing rights, entitling the tribes to 50% of the allowable harvest of Klamath River fish. “Since time immemorial, Klamath Basin has been the lifeblood of the Hupa people. We will continue to stand up for the fish of the Klamath Basin” concluded Jackson.