Pacific Salmon Crisis: Seeking Shared Solutions

Wed, 05/07/2008

Pacific Salmon Crisis: Seeking Shared Solutions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                       


Brian Johnson, Trout Unlimited: (415) 385-0796
Paul Johnson, Monterey Fish Market: (510) 525-0999
Michael Brunson: Michel-Schlumberger Wine Estate: (707) 433-7427 x16
Kirk Hardcastle: Taku River Reds (AK): (808) 281-4090

Pacific Salmon Crisis: Seeking Shared Solutions
CA Salmon Businesses, Chefs, Fishermen, Vintners & Conservation Groups Propose Solutions to Salmon Crisis

detailed in new wild salmon recipe/conservation booklet: “Have Your Salmon & Eat it Too: California;” wine and wild salmon reception to follow.

SAN FRANCISCO – A diverse group of representatives from virtually every stop along the salmon supply chain will gather at Scoma’s restaurant along the wharf in San Francisco today at 2:30 p.m. to put forward cooperative solutions to the coastal salmon crisis. They will highlight concrete ways individual consumers and businesses can actively help in partnership to recover Pacific salmon and steelhead stocks in California, and throughout their native range.

"No two things have had more political, economic and cultural impact on California and the Pacific Coast than salmon and gold,” said Brian Johnson of Trout Unlimited. “Last week, for the first time since gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in 1848, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce declared the West Coast salmon fishery a commercial failure. But if we start today, people working in partnerships – from San Francisco Bay to Bristol Bay, Alaska - have the ability to prevent our salmon heritage and salmon fishing from becoming, like the gold boom, a distant historical relic.”

Conservation group Trout Unlimited, through its WhyWild Campaign, has enlisted the power of consumers and businesses who appreciate the values – nutritional, ecological, culinary, economic and intrinsic – of wild salmon to leverage TU’s efforts to improve salmon habitat conditions and salmon management, thus allowing wild salmon and steelhead to thrive again throughout their native range. As a way to educate consumers about wild salmon and why it’s so critical to “vote with your fork,” today TU will be releasing “Have Your Salmon & Eat it Too: California,” which blends wild salmon conservation with salmon recipes and perspectives from an all-star lineup of Golden State culinary professionals. The report can be downloaded at

“Wild salmon is without a doubt one of nature’s most perfect foods,” said celebrated chef, restaurateur and author Alice Waters of Berkeley’s Chez Panisse, whose “King Salmon in Fig Leaves” recipe is featured in the TU booklet. “Anyone sitting down to their table to enjoy a perfect fillet of wild salmon should pause and feel thankful for the clean mountain stream that spawned it, the redwood forest that kept it cool, the krill that sustained it in the ocean, and the free passage back to its natal river that allowed it to spawn, and then die. As consumers we have a say in the future of wild Pacific salmon; remember to vote with your fork.”

“Each of us has a role to play in improving conditions for salmon,” said Michael Brunson, Winemaker & Vineyard Manager for Michel-Schlumberger Wine Estate. “Working with TU on restoration and education has been a perfect fit with our commitment to managing a cutting edge, eco-conscious wine farm.  As vineyards and vintners, we are empowered to make choices and adopt practices that result in real benefits for our watersheds and our salmon.” 

Trout Unlimited, Michel-Schlumberger and 15 other Sonoma County vineyards recently announced Water and Wine, a new initiative to meet the combined water needs of vineyards and salmon and steelhead in Northern California’s Wine Country.  By creating small, off-stream ponds for storage of rainy-season water and switching irrigation away from the dry season--when salmon and steelhead need water the most--we’re working on solutions that provide irrigators the water reliability they need to produce great wine and provide fish the water they need to survive. Through unprecedented partnerships, TU and its partners in California work toward solutions for salmon everyday.

No segment of the salmon supply chain has been more economically impacted than the fleets of commercial boats that operate along the West Coast, and the communities they support.  Headlines again this year have chronicled the closure of ocean salmon fishing for all of California and most of Oregon due to the collapse of the Sacramento chinook salmon run, and that is merely this year’s story. Zeke Grader is the Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, the largest trade association of commercial fishermen on the West Coast, with members from San Diego to Alaska.

“Our fishermen understand all too well that without clean, cold rivers, healthy habitat and sound management, there is no salmon fishing,” said Grader.  “The more consumers and business send a strong signal through the marketplace and to lawmakers that quality salmon is a choice they demand, the more incentive there is to protect and restore salmon and steelhead ecosystems.  That's a lot of economic horsepower and public demand joining forces for conservation, and that's the kind of help these fisheries need.”

“This year’s salmon crisis is a reality that all salmon fishermen must come together and deal with,” said Kirk Hardcastle of Taku River Reds, an Alaskan-based salmon company.  “This isn’t just California’s problem, this is Alaska’s problem as well, and everyone’s in between.  While we’re very thankful that Alaska’s salmon fisheries are still healthy and productive, it’s in all our best interest to protect and restore all wild salmon fisheries.”

Central to the message of TU’s WhyWild Campaign is simply that the choices consumers make, be they at the grocery store, at their local restaurant, or at their meat market, do matter, and that collectively those choices have a pronounced ripple effect through the marketplace that does make a difference.

Bay Area fishmonger and award-winning author Paul Johnson from Monterey Fish Market is featured in “Have Your Salmon & Eat it Too: California,” and wrote the booklet’s foreword. Johnson’s message about the hope for recovery of California’s great salmon heritage is key to anyone wondering if salmon protection and recovery effort is coming too little, and too late:

“Salmon are resilient and if given the chance will quickly return to former abundance,” Johnson writes. “Hope for the future lies in our hands: good science, habitat restoration, cool, clean water, access to habitat, respect for the environment and consumer advocacy hold the keys to the success of wild salmon.”

Thursday’s press conference will begin at 2:30 pm outside of Scoma’s restaurant along Pier 47 in San Francisco. The press conference will be followed immediately by a salmon and wine tasting inside Scoma’s, featuring Alaskan salmon from Taku River Reds and Scoma’s, along with wine from Water and Wine partners: Michel-Schlumberger Wine Estate, Mounts Vineyards and Winery, Robert Young Vineyards, and Steelhead Wines (click here for a full list of participants). The reception is free and open to the media, salmon conservation partners, and guests.

Date: 5/8/2008


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