Salmon farmers in California fear Trump will destroy their industry

Salmon farmers in California fear Trump will destroy their industry
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Salmon farmers in California say they are worried that President TrumpDonald TrumpThe Memo: The Obamas unbound, on race Iran says onus is on US to rejoin nuclear deal on third anniversary of withdrawal Assaults on Roe v Wade increasing MORE’s administration will cause irreparable harm to their industry.

Huge agribusinesses in the Central Valley — a Republican stronghold in the blue state —  are pushing for the federal government to pump more water their way to be able to operate their farms, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

The newspaper reported that the water, which flows through the valley's rivers, is vital to salmon fisheries and the existing ecosystem.


Trump, however, appeared to side with the large Central Valley fish farmers.

“You have a water problem that is so insane, it is so ridiculous, where they’re taking the water and shoving it out to sea,” Trump said in 2016. “They have farms up here, and they don’t get water. I said, ‘Oh, that’s too bad. Is it a drought?’ ‘No, we have plenty of water. … We shove it out to sea.’ … The environmentalists are trying to protect a certain kind of three-inch fish.”

The Times noted that Trump was referring to smelt, a small fish that is an indicator of the overall ecosystem’s health.

Heather Sears, who has been fishing salmon for almost two decades, said commercial fisherman are taking the “brunt” of the loss.

“Salmon have lived through lots of droughts,” Sears told the Times. “But they haven’t lived through droughts and the complete degradation of their ecosystem and the over-allocation of their water to Central Valley farmers.”

“As commercial fishermen, we’re not asking for all the water, but just as much as we need to keep our businesses viable and our communities strong,” she added. “We’re asking that we all take the same amount of cuts instead of us losing our entire seasons and them planting more almonds or whatever they do. I feel like we take the brunt.”

The newspaper also noted that Trump appointed David Bernhardt to the second-highest position at the Department of Interior after he came to office. Bernhardt is a former lobbyist for Westlands Water District, a group that receives federal irrigation supplies from the Central Valley Project.

Bernhardt’s firm had sued the Interior Department and Bureau of Reclamation several times on behalf of Westlands before he joined the agency’s leadership, The Times previously reported.

The state legislature is reportedly trying to fight back against the Trump administration’s environmental regulations with so-called Trump insurance, as one lawmaker told the newspaper.

A bill is being considered that would keep regulations intact if Trump’s administration tries to roll them back.

California’s Water Resources Control Board proposed increasing water flows into the Sacramento-San Francisco Bay Delta to protect “an ecosystem in crisis.”

The Trump administration's Interior Department, however, threatened to sue, accusing California of illegally trying to “co-opt” a federal project.

Salmon farmers, however, told the newspaper that they are concerned with how the battle for water will affect their livelihoods.

“Structurally, we don’t have the protections we need,” said John McManus, head of the Golden Gate Salmon Association. “Next time we go back into drought, it’s going to be as bad or worse than the last time."