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Vandals strike again in Tiburon, freeing the last 20,000 juvenile salmon into the bay

Vandals strike again in Tiburon, freeing the last 20,000 juvenile salmon into the bay

By Paul Liberatore

Marin Independent Journal

Posted: 10/08/2011

Four days after vandals set loose 40,000 juvenile Chinook salmon, breaking the hearts of the high school students who raised them, the executive director of the Tiburon Salmon Institute was shocked Saturday morning when he discovered that net lines again had been cut overnight, releasing the remaining 20,000 fish into San Francisco Bay.

"It's been a hell of a week and now this has happened," said a dispirited Brooke Halsey, head of the institute. "There are nuts out there, and they did it the same way. They clipped the zip ties that hold the nets in place. We were trying to solicit funds for a security camera. But we couldn't get a security camera put up quick enough, and they came back."

The first act of vandalism, on Oct. 3, scotched a celebration set for the end of the month, when students at Casa Grande High School in Petaluma were to cheer on the fish they had raised from eggs as they were being set free into the bay, the finale of the institute's annual program. Although the remaining fish were raised by volunteers at a Feather River hatchery, the teens were still looking forward to attending an Oct. 30 open house, when those 20,000 juveniles were to be released from their floating pens at the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies to begin their new lives beyond the Golden Gate.

Despite the latest disappointment, the institute has vowed to go ahead with the end-of-program party, even if it will be without fish. "The kids are still obviously very upset now that this has happened a second time," lamented Candice Guy, the director of education for the institute, whose motto is "empowering today's youth to save tomorrow's salmon. "We were planning on going forward with this release and the kids were going to take part in that," she said. "Considering all the hard work that goes into this, it's very disheartening to see this happen."

Although no one has claimed responsibility for the vandalism, some animal rights activists have been critical of the way the institute has been holding the 8-to-10 inch salmon, called "smolts."

Peter Young, in a "Voice of the Voiceless" journal for the Animal Liberation Movement, weighed in after the first episode of vandalism, calling the perpetrators "anonymous saboteurs." "If this was the act of animal liberators, it would be the largest recorded animal liberation ever in the U.S.," he wrote, noting that the largest previous one was the release of 14,000 mink in an Animal Liberation Front raid on a fur farm in Iowa.

"Those who cut the nets may not have known the fish were slated to be released in the coming weeks," he went on. "Or, they could have chosen to risk themselves anyway to give the fish a few extra weeks of freedom, sparing them the psychological suffering of being kept in intense confinement with approximately 40,000 others in a small net."

In a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) blog post on Oct. 5, Heather Faraid Drennan, mistaking the Tiburon environmental education organization for a fish farm, decried the salmon being held in 16-by-25-by-8-foot pens. "With 20,000 to a pen, this means that there were more than six 10-inch fish per cubic foot," she wrote. "Fish kept in such crowded conditions often suffer from severe injuries, and in such filthy conditions they are also susceptible to parasites that can eat their faces down to the bone."

The salmon institute's director of education said there is no proof so far that the perpetrators are from an animal rights organization.

"But from what we've been reading on the Internet, there have been groups assuming we're farming fish, which is not what we're doing," she said. "We are using these fish to educate the community on the declining salmon population, and also helping to repopulate the salmon here in the bay. "Whoever did this, they could have come in and at least talked to us about what we're actually doing here. The fish aren't suffering. We're taking very good care of them."

The institute is in partnership on this project with the San Francisco Tyee Club, a fishing and conservation group that claims to have released more than a million salmon into the bay over the past 30 years. Halsey, the institute's executive director, a former Sonoma County Deputy District Attorney, said the Marin County Sheriff's Department is investigating the vandalism, and that he had a meeting planned with the FBI. "This has put a damper on the whole project," he said. "We've got to find out who did this to us and why. It's so ludicrous."

[Press Office note: No claim by animal liberationists has been received at this time.]


Heaping insult on injury, vandals struck again at a salmon restoration project in Tiburon and released the 20,000 hatchery-raised chinook smolts that were left in place after the first attack last week that set loose about 40,000 of the young fish.

This second act of vandalism was discovered Saturday morning by volunteers who arrived to work at the bayside pens at the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies.

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full story:
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20111009/COMMUNITY/111009498?Title=Vandals-strike-Casa-Grande-salmon-project-again


Four days after 40,000 fish were released from nets, saboteurs return and release the remaining 20,000

"They came back"

In an incredible move, saboteurs returned to the Bay Area site where 40,000 salmon were released Monday night and released the remaining 20,000. The pen that was untouched in Monday's action was cut open, releasing the last of the fish held captive by the Tiburon Salmon Institute.

The head of the institute stated:

"They clipped the zip ties that hold the nets in place. We were trying to solicit funds for a security camera. But we couldn't get a security camera put up quick enough, and they came back."

The Marin County Sheriff's Department is investigating the vandalism, and said they have a meeting planned with the FBI.

The Animal Liberation Front has not claimed responsibility, and it is not yet confirmed this is the work of an animal liberation group.

Misguided action?

The conversation on these actions has centered on two things:

* The institute's assertion that the fish were raised to be released into the bay anyway, in a ceremony to be held October 30th.

*How upset the high school students who raised the fish are.

Three things are lost here:

*The "project" was done in partnership with the San Francisco Tyee Club: a fishing group. Yet they would still have us believe this project was about helping fish.

*The basic philosophical underpinning that humans do not have a say in where, how, or when any animal is held captive. Casa Grande High School students who were involved with this program have no right to imprison 40,000 fish in a big net for a single day. Anyone who keeps any animal in a cage anywhere should be reminded: "the ALF is watching".

*Most "wildlife research" is a fraud to benefit animal agriculture under the guise of "conservation". So many lies have been told under the pretext of "wildlife conservation", that an incredible burden of proof rests on anyone doing a "wildlife research program" to show their program is not intended solely to benefit people who kill animals for profit.

"Humane Treatment"

People involved in the program have been vocal about how well their fish are (were) treated. They don't mention this "humane treatment" is 20,000 fish in 16-by-25-by-8-foot pens. Television news footage of the pens show fish packed at a density that is clearly inhumane and unnatural for any salmon.

Having now lost every fish held, the program of the Tiburon Salmon Institute and Case Grande High School is a total loss.

And those who held these fish captive are still complaining, as though they every had a right to keep 60,000 fish in nets to begin with:

"This has put a damper on the whole project. We've got to find out who did this to us and why. It's so ludicrous."

- Peter Young

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