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Survey Suggests Smelt Health Improving

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, October 13, 2011

A decade ago, the California Department of Fish and Game's Smelt Index was 430.  Now, it's 50, based on the number and weight of the fish caught in a net in the San Francisco Estuary.    Fish and Game's Randall Baxter says water exports and increased ammonium pollution from water treatment plants and an invasive clam are to blame.

BAXTER: " The zooplankton are the food…the invertebrate food for these fishes.  So the clam eats the algae that the zooplankton would eat and makes it more difficult for the zooplankton to do well.  And   because the zooplankton are food for the fish, they have a harder time finding the food that they want."

It has been four years since a federal judge ruled state and federal water projects had to cut deliveries to farmers in order to comply with the Endangered Species Act.  The results of October's survey should be released next week.    
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