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Fishery Managers Consider Closing Salmon Seasons Off West Coast

NOAA Fisheries Southwest Fisheries Science Center / Courtesy

An adult male coho salmon in Big Creek (Scott Creek tributary, Santa Cruz County).

NOAA Fisheries Southwest Fisheries Science Center / Courtesy

The Pacific Fishery Management Council sets the fishing seasons in ocean waters off the Pacific Coast.

For California, the number of commercial salmon fishing days could be cut by more than 20 percent, and some areas could be closed completely.

Another option would be to completely close the recreational and commercial salmon fishing season off the coast of Washington and Northern Oregon this summer.

The Council will revise the options after hearing from the public and scientists.

One of three public hearings is March 29 in Fort Bragg. Other hearings are scheduled for March 28 in Westport, Washington and Coos Bay, Oregon.

The Council will narrow the options to one single season recommendation during its April 9-14 meeting in Vancouver, Washington, and forward its recommendation to the National Marine Fisheries Service for final approval before May 1.

Council Vice Chair Herb Pollard says several key salmon stocks "are less abundant than usual due to environmental conditions like the drought in California and El Niño."

"The mix of salmon runs this year is unusual," says Executive Director Donald McIsaac, in a Council blog post. "In the north, the return of fall Chinook to the Columbia River is forecast to be exceptionally high again, but expectations for wild coho runs to the Washington Coast and Puget Sound areas can only be described as disastrous. In the south, the Sacramento River fall Chinook are healthy, but Klamath River fall Chinook are so poor that the Council’s policy calls for a low ‘de minimis’ catch in ocean fisheries."

The options under consideration by the Pacific Fishery Management Council for West Coast recreational and commercial salmon fishing seasons: http://www.pcouncil.org/2016/03/40984/council-chooses-options-for-2016-salmon-season/