Image # 3032
Record Fish Kill in Klamath River
Biologists with California Department of Fish and Game and the Yurok Tribe run a stream survey of dead fish on a section of the Klamath River. Over 33,000 salmon have died trying to reach their spawning grounds in the Klamath River. In a heated water dispute borne from too many users of too little water, the Bush Administration this year sided with farmers over fishermen. Six months ago, US Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries biologists warned that shifting more water to irrigation uses could have dire consequences for downsteam fish. Now fish are dying in record numbers, and biologists believe that 33,000 or more salmon and steelhead have died before spawning. Although most of the dead salmon are Chinook, over a hundred endangered coho salmon have also been killed. All of the salmon are commercially valuable. A few biologists have sought whistle blower status. The fish are victims of a bacteria that consumes thier gill tissue and a parasite that attacks their intestinal tract - diseases exacerbated by warm water and low water flows that trap fish and allow the pathogens to concentrate. Although the Bush Administration denies that their water policy is responsible, Secretary of the Interior Gail Norton did agree to release additional water from Upper Klamath Lake in an attempt to alleviate the crisis.