[env-trinity] Salmon Season

Byron bwl3 at comcast.net
Fri Feb 24 11:30:04 PST 2006

Feds may drastically cut salmon season; Experts say low numbers of chinook
in Klamath, Trinity rivers could even spur cancellation of commercial, sport

Santa Rosa Press Democrat - 2/24/06

By Katy Hillenmeyer, staff writer


Regulators may severely curtail commercial and sport salmon fishing off
California this year, and could even cancel the season.

The number of mature chinook salmon leaving the ocean to spawn in the
Klamath and Trinity rivers has fallen short of a goal of 35,000 two years
running, biologists said.

And the forecast for wild salmon returning to the Klamath this year is lower
than it's been since 1992, which industry experts say could trigger a
shortened fishing season from northern Oregon to Monterey.

"The way that the stars are aligned, it would be the most restrictive year
since 1992," said Rod McInnis, southwest regional administrator for the
National Marine Fisheries Service.

Even with commercial and recreational fishing prohibited through August
between Oregon's Cape Falcon and California's Point Sur - and with tribal
and sport fishing banned on the Klamath - the wild salmon would barely top
29,000, biologists predict.

Bodega Bay's salmon fishing season typically ends Sept. 30.

After 1992's dismal spawning forecast, "it's the second lowest .. . on
record," said Chuck Tracy of the Pacific Fishery Management Council, which
advises U.S. regulators about offshore fishing limits in California, Oregon
and Washington.

The March 15 opening of salmon fishing off Fort Bragg is likely to be
postponed, he said, and Bodega Bay fishermen may again see their traditional
May-1 opening pushed into mid-summer.

"The whole fishery could be delayed or not happen," Tracy said Thursday. "I
doubt there will be anything like last year's seasons. I think that would be
pretty optimistic."

Tens of thousands of salmon died in 2002 when water diversions for
agriculture in Oregon left the Klamath River too low and too warm, an
episode that has had lasting effects on ocean fishermen's freedom to harvest
fall chinook.

Conservation-driven limits delayed the commercial season off Bodega Bay last
summer until July 4, cutting nine weeks out of a five-month season. Thanks
to higher prices, California's salmon fishermen still grossed $12.8 million
in 2004, industry records indicate, a year after reaping $18.4 million.

The Portland, Ore.-based fishery management council will not finalize the
last of its 2006 chinook recommendations to federal regulators until April.
But fishermen, including many coming off a delayed crab season, are prepared
for another short summer.

"The worst scenario is there would be no fishing whatsoever for salmon; the
best would be typical of last year's season," said Chuck Wise, a Bodega Bay
fisherman who earns half of his income off salmon. "There will be full
fishing below Point Sur, but there are not many salmon close to the coast of

Wise, who presides over the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's
Associations, said it wouldn't be worth the cost of fuel to fish south of

Fishermen will lobby for an emergency exception to allow fishing in spite of
conservation shortfalls, he said.

Under a federal law to sustain fisheries, if salmon spawning targets are
missed three years in a row, "that triggers an overfishing review," said
Allen Glover, a senior biologist in Santa Rosa with the state Department of
Fish and Game.

So "without an emergency rule to go fishing, legally we can't go fishing
under federal law," he said. "We're all waiting for the National Marine
Fisheries Service to tell us whether we can go fishing."

Salmon from the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers are plentiful again this

"But it's the water situation on the Klamath that's created all this
problem," Wise said. "As long as they keep pumping all the water out of the
Klamath, this is never going to change."



Byron Leydecker

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

Advisor, California Trout, Inc

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 ph

415 383 9562 fx

bwl3 at comcast.net

bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org





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