Feds vote to halt Calif. chinook salmon fishing

Apr 09, 2009 By JASON DEAREN , Associated Press Writer
Hugo Tapia, a worker at the Princeton Seafood Fish Restaurant & Market, holds up a frozen Wild King Salmon from Canada, at his market in Half Moon Bay, Calif., Wednesday, April 8, 2009. Federal fisheries managers are deciding the fate of California's chinook salmon fishing season after record low returns were recorded in the Central Valley last year. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

(AP) -- California's commercial chinook salmon fishing season will be called off again after a record low number of fish returned to spawn last year, federal fisheries managers announced Wednesday.

The decision by the Pacific Fishery Management Council will almost completely curtail commercial fishing in Oregon as well, but it allows the sport and commercial seasons in Washington state to proceed.

The decision marks the second straight year that the council has halted commercial angling for natural and hatchery chinook , or "king" salmon, in California. The vote must be approved by the National Marine Fisheries Service before May 1.

King salmon populations returning to the Central Valley to spawn have declined in recent years, with the council estimating that 66,264 salmon adults returned to the Sacramento River in 2008. The estimate was down from 90,000 in 2007. More than 750,000 adult salmon were counted in 2002.

Chinook salmon hatch in freshwater streams and rivers, then migrate to the ocean where they feed and grow before returning to spawn in the fresh waters in which they were born. Large water pumps in the Sacramento Delta and ocean changes have been blamed for the decline in California.

The Sacramento River chinook run often provides the bulk of salmon caught off the coasts of California and Oregon. Returns in the Klamath River, another salmon spawning river north of the Sacramento, were higher but still smaller than expected.

Some fishermen said they were prepared for the season to be called off and hope the actions will improve their livelihoods in coming years.

"It's better off sitting out this season, then looking at good projections for next year," said Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, an industry group.

Salmon return forecasts in the Sacramento River are expected to double next year to 122,196. But that estimate would mean only 196 fish could be legally caught, because biologists say the rest are needed to sustain the population.

Congress approved a $170 million relief package last year for struggling fishermen and related businesses to make it through the year. About $50 million was set aside in anticipation of this year's season being canceled, Grader said.

Dave Bitts, who has fished salmon for 30 years, said some salmon anglers switched to catching groundfish like black cod to help make ends meet, but most stopped fishing.

"Even if we all went to groundfish, there's no combination of fisheries out there to replace the loss of salmon," Bitts said.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Earthworms as nature's free fertilizer

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Salmon fishing season at risk in Calif.

Mar 13, 2008

U.S. officials are considering canceling the 2008 salmon fishing season in California and Oregon because of a dramatic decline in salmon population.

Norway may halt salmon fishing season

Apr 18, 2008

Norwegian wildlife management officials said stocks of wild salmon have dropped so low they may have to halt the salmon fishing season.

Scientists wonder where salmon are

Jul 07, 2005

Biologists and fish and wildlife experts in Washington State say only about 100,000 sockeye salmon have returned to spawn and they want to know why.

U.S. halts coho salmon protection

Jan 18, 2006

The Bush administration has reportedly decided not to restore protection for coastal coho salmon that now number about 1-10th their historic population.

Recommended for you

Earthworms as nature's free fertilizer

47 minutes ago

Earthworm presence in the soil increases crop yield, shows a new study that was published this week in Scientific Reports. "This is not unexpected," says Jan Willem van Groenigen, associate professor in the ...

A success in managed pressure drilling

57 minutes ago

As one of BP's top 40 wells globally (and the only UK well qualifying for that category in 2012), the successful delivery of the Harding field's 'Producer North East 2a' well (referred to as PNE2a) was crucial to the business. ...

Passion for the natural world clears the waters

1 hour ago

A toxic legacy has hung over the picturesque northern NSW coastal hamlet of Urunga for almost 40 years. Although now obscured by dense vegetation, the forest of dead melaleuca trees at the edge of a wetland ...

Indonesia to ratify ASEAN haze agreement

5 hours ago

Indonesia's parliament on Tuesday voted to ratify a regional agreement on cross-border haze as fires ripped through forests in the west of the country, choking neighbouring Singapore with hazardous smog.

User comments : 0