Something smells fishy

Conservationists have panned proposed California legislation aimed at decreasing water restrictions in the San Joaquin Delta by increasing the amount of the region’s endangered fish raised in hatcheries.

A federal judge reduced the amount of pumping on the waterway by 30 percent last year to protect the endangered delta smelt, a species of fish about the size of a thumb, whose numbers had dropped dangerously close to extinction. The ruling has eliminated an estimated 640,000 acre-feet of water from the supply since January, reported The Fresno Bee.

State Sens. Dean Florez (D-Shafter) and Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) claim Senate Bill 994 would increase the minnow’s population to levels that would help avoid future water cutbacks. But critics counter that simply building up the species in captivity doesn’t solve the problems in the Delta, where scientists say the ecosystem has been fractured by giant pumps.