Co-authored by Ben Rubin

On February 27, 2010, the Sacramento Bee published a story by Matt Weiser entitled "Lawsuit: Striped bass to blame for California’s salmon decline." The story discusses an ongoing lawsuit (PDF) challenging the California Department of Fish and Game’s enforcement of striped bass sport-fishing regulations in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The lawsuit alleges that the enforcement of the striped bass sport-fishing regulations maintain an elevated striped bass population, which increases striped bass predation on a number of species listed under the Endangered Species Act ("ESA"), including the Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon and delta smelt. Because these species are listed, any action that increases striped bass predation is a violation of Section 9 of the ESA, which prohibits any government agency, entity, or individual from "taking" a federally protected species without prior authorization.

Plaintiffs and the Department of Fish and Game have filed cross-motions for summary judgment, which the federal District Court is scheduled to hear in late April. Plaintiffs’ motion (PDF), which relies primarily on documents and statements from Department of Fish and Game employees, seeks summary adjudication on the issue of liability and standing. The Department of Fish and Game, however, has only moved (PDF) on the issue of plaintiffs’ standing.