[env-trinity] SF Chronicle 2 26 09

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Thu Feb 26 14:18:37 PST 2009

California ban on salmon fishing likely for '09

San Francisco Chronicle - 2/26/09

By Peter Fimrite, staff writer


(02-25) 20:26 PST -- Prospects are not good this year for the folks who fish
for salmon off the California coast - or for the people who like to eat it.

type=newsbayarea> Mission District rally for immigrant rights 02.26.09 

The number of chinook in the ocean right now is barely enough to meet the
minimum sustainable goal when the fish return to spawn in the Sacramento
River system this fall - and that's assuming no fishing is allowed this
year, according to a forecast Wednesday by a federal agency.


The ominous news, contained in the Pacific Fishery Management Council's
report on ocean salmon fisheries, comes on the tail fins of last week's
announcement that fewer salmon than ever recorded swam through San Francisco
Bay last fall to spawn in the Sacramento River.


"This is grim news for the state of California," said Don Hansen, chairman
of the council, a federal body that regulates commercial and sport fishing.
"We won't be able to talk about this without using the word 'disaster.' "


Last year only 66,286 adult salmon returned to the Sacramento River to
spawn, only the second time in 16 years that the number of fall run chinook
failed to meet the council's goal of between 122,000 and 180,000 adult fish.
Six years ago, the peak return was 13 times higher. 


The dismal showing forced a ban on commercial salmon fishing off the
California and Oregon coasts, the first total closure in California history.


Wednesday's report projects a return of 122,196 fish next fall, assuming no
salmon are hooked and reeled in for food in the meantime. The chinook that
spawn in the fall are the same ones that are normally fished out of the
ocean during the summer.


The council will discuss another possible ban during its annual meeting
March 7-13 in Seattle, and things aren't looking good, said Chuck Tracy, a
staff officer for the council.


"Certainly fisheries are going to be very restricted at the best," he said.


One positive sign in the council report is that the number of salmon
returning to the Klamath River is expected to exceed the council's goal.
Chinook and coho salmon runs in the Columbia River, which empties into the
ocean on the Oregon-Washington border, are expected to be strong this year,
meaning fishing restrictions there are likely to be less severe.


Chinook, also known as king salmon, are the prized fish of Northern
California. They were once abundant in the ocean and in almost every river
and stream along the coast throughout the year.


They have struggled for centuries against the powerful currents of the
Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, laying eggs in the gravel. Their young
would hatch in the rivers, swim out the bay and live in the ocean, returning
to their birthplace three years later.


The mighty fish, which was the primary food of many Native American
communities, are now worth millions of dollars to the economies of fishing
communities up and down the coast.


Scientists believe warmer ocean conditions have reduced the food supply for
the fish, while record exports of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin
River Delta coincided with major declines in chinook.


The National Marine Fisheries Service is expected to make a final decision
on fishing quotas by May 1, when California's salmon fishing season begins.


Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land

415 519 4810 cell

 <mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net

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