[env-trinity] San Francisco Chronicle April 29
bwl3 at comcast.net
Sat Apr 29 09:58:54 PDT 2006
U.S. OKs slashing salmon season
Restrictions could hurt fishermen, markets, restaurants
<mailto:glenmartin at sfchronicle.com> Glen Martin, Chronicle Environment
Saturday, April 29, 2006
The federal government on Friday adopted an advisory council's
recommendations for deep cuts to the 2006 California and Oregon salmon
season -- a decision that could bankrupt many fishermen and result in
shortages of wild chinook salmon in supermarkets and restaurants.
The decision, made by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's
Fisheries Service under the authority of the U.S. Department of Commerce,
confirms a recommendation made this month by the Pacific Fishery Management
For commercial fishermen, the decision came at the 11th hour.
Typically, the commercial season begins on May 1. Friday's decision will
allow fishermen to begin trolling on the traditional date, but only under
The usually productive waters from San Francisco to central Oregon will be
off-limits for commercial fishing throughout most of the season in order to
protect stocks of threatened Klamath River salmon.
There are plenty of salmon in the sea, but most are Sacramento River fish.
Because Klamath and Sacramento salmon mingle in the ocean, regulators say,
restrictions must be imposed when Klamath salmon fall to critical levels --
as they have in recent years.
Commercial fishing in California will be allowed in the Monterey region from
Pigeon Point south in May, and will be restricted further beginning in June,
when fishing will only be allowed south of Point Sur until July 26.
Commercial fishing will be allowed north to Point Arena after July 26 but
will be restricted to 75 fish per boat per week.
A limited trolling season also will be allowed around Fort Bragg in
Everything considered, the 2006 season won't yield enough fish for salmon
trollers to survive, said Zeke Grader, the executive director of the Pacific
Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations.
In a news release sent out on Friday afternoon, NOAA Fisheries contended the
season represents a 60 percent cut in a "usual" salmon season.
But Grader disputed that analysis. In real terms -- the number of fish
trollers can hope to catch, given the various season restrictions -- the
2006 commercial season amounts to a 90 percent cut, he said.
"For much of the season, trollers will be restricted to southern waters,
which often don't hold a lot of salmon," Grader said. "If the salmon aren't
in the water where the people are allowed to fish -- which is a very real
possibility -- it will be tantamount to a complete closure."
Recreational anglers face significant restrictions in the northernmost part
of the state, but will be able to fish as usual out of San Francisco area
"For some reason, the data shows that recreational fishermen in the (central
state area) have little effect on the Klamath stocks," said Grader. "It
isn't clear why -- we need more research."
In Friday's news release, NOAA officials said the 2006 season restrictions
will allow 21,000 mature spawning salmon to return to the Klamath instead of
the 25,000 fish that are expected.
At least 35,000 returning salmon are considered essential by NOAA regulators
for optimum fishery production. Officials noted that Klamath spawner returns
have fallen below the 35,000 figure at least 13 times, and have rebounded in
The officials characterized the temporary lowering of the spawner target
figure as the best possible compromise that could be made with commercial
"We are acutely aware of the impact this rule has on fisherman and coastal
communities, but feel this is a necessary step to ensure the long-term
health of the salmon fishery," Rod McInnis, the director of NOAA Fisheries'
Southwest Region, said in the news release.
But the fishing community and many environmentalists contend that fishermen
are being made to pay for federal mismanagement of the Klamath system. They
say the Klamath's salmon collapse is due to excessive water diversion for
agriculture along the river.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which controls the spigot on the Klamath,
has countered it is meeting all fisheries criteria established by NOAA
Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
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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