The Sacramento fall Chinook and the Klamath fall Chinook have been declared "overfished."

"Overfished" has a clearly defined statistical meaning, established with the Magnuson-Stevens Act in 1976, and modified with a couple amendments over the decades. Overfishing occurs when a single year exploitation rate exceeds the maximum fishing mortality threshold, based on the geometric mean of... postseason estimates of spawning escapement... forecast models.... stock abund.... spawner equiva.....

WAIT! Did I lose you??! Did you stop at "overfished"? Did you maybe jump to the conclusion that fishing is the problem?

Salmon populations are down this year. But not because they have been overfished. They are drought-affected, they are environmentally devastated, they are habitat starved.

For many species and fisheries, fishing contributes to population decline. But not west coast salmon. Applying "overfished" to these fish hides the real problems and the real solutions for rebuilding these beautiful and iconic fish populations.

Fishery managers agree. National Marine Fisheries Service doesn't like it. California Department of Fish and Wildlife doesn't like it. Federal lawmakers are working to change the vocabulary in the latest round of Magnuson-Stevens Act amendments.

For now, though, we are stuck with "overfished." Don't be fooled.

Drought feels like the new normal

California is, AGAIN, very dry this year. Most artificial reservoirs are near normal for this time of year, which would usually be pretty comforting. Except that our largest reservoir, the natural reservoir which is the enormous quantity of water contained in snowpack is virtually nonexistent. We rely on the melting snowpack to replenish the artificial reservoirs in spring and summer as use increases (mostly agricultural use, but that's a topic for another day...). Snowpack is less than one third of average for this time of year.  So despite water levels behind the dams, California is again facing a water crisis.

There was so much rain in 2017, it felt like everyone who depends on water was celebrating. Farmers, fishermen, skiers, water managers, anyone that eats food, anyone not downstream of Oroville Dam.

But all that rainfall followed 4 years of the most severe drought in California in 1400 years. Drought and increasing water scarcity are becoming the new normal.

Whose ocean is it anyway?

Trump & Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke are proposing to open huge swaths of the Pacific, Atlantic, Arctic, and Gulf coasts to offshore drilling. The "largest number of lease sales ever proposed" includes the ENTIRE outer continental shelf, every square inch between 3-200 nautical miles from the shoreline. This area includes pre-existing marine sanctuaries, endless habitat, fishing grounds, diverse & thriving ecosystems, pretty much everything.

BUT. Florida appears to be getting a hall pass from this nonsense. Maybe because "Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver. As a result of discussion with Governor [Scott] and his leadership, [Ryan Zinke is] removing Florida from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms." Maybe because Rick Scott is considering a run for Senate in 2018. Is Mar-a-Lago inside that exempted area?

The comment deadline is March 9, 2018. Tell em what you think here.

Why is crab so expensive right now?

Dungeness crab prices spike due to limited supply

It's a straightforward lesson of supply & demand. Dungeness crab is particularly popular in the Bay Area at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Chinese New Year (demand is high). The local harvest this season has been less abundant than previous years (supply is low).

The crab that is available is meaty and delicious, but don't expect to get any good deals for at least a couple more weeks.