- Associated Press - Thursday, September 10, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Zeke Grader, a lifelong conservationist who loved wild fish, wild rivers and the good fight necessary to protect them, has died. He was 68.

Grader died Monday of pancreatic cancer at a San Francisco hospice, Tim Sloane, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, said in a statement.

From 1976 until this summer, Mr. Grader held the executive director position for the federation, the largest trade group of commercial fishermen on the West Coast. He represented commercial fishermen in their efforts to keep streams and rivers flowing, the San Francisco Bay healthy and wild salmon and other native fish plentiful and viable.

“You would probably not be eating a wild California salmon today if it were not for Zeke,” Sloan, a close friend of Grader, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “He was not afraid of speaking truth to power. He wasn’t afraid of anyone.”

In the constant battle over California water, Grader frequently fought with agricultural and commercial interests that he believed were laying claim to more than their fair share.

He worked on such projects as dismantling dams, protecting habitat, assisting out-of-work fishermen and maintaining critical water flows. He took on timber harvesters, suction dredge miners and petroleum polluters.

 A lawyer by training, Grader wound up making the king salmon his primary client.

Grader, the son of a fish broker, was a native of Fort Bragg in Mendocino County. He spent much of his childhood on the Fort Bragg docks, helping fishermen unload their catches. He was a graduate of Sonoma State University  and the University of San Francisco School of Law and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.

In addition to advocating for healthy fishing practices and sustainable uses of fisheries habitat, Grader championed legislation to protect White Sharks, as a means of keeping this important predator as a natural system of “checks and balances” for seal and sea lion populations, which compete with fishermen for salmon and other fish.

He is survived by his wife, Sausalito attorney Lois Prentice .

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