Salmon Fishermen Face More Setbacks

Heads of the Pacific Coast
side of the Fishery Management Council decided on Wednesday, April 8
to basically call off this year’s salmon fishing season, after fears
that the King/Chinook salmon population may be undersized and may be
threatened by the additional fishing season, after a smaller number
of the Sacramento River and Klamath River Chinooks migrated to California
and Oregon this year. (One way that Pacific Coast fishery authorities
have tried to alleviate the situation in the past has involved actually
transplanting fish from fisheries, to the ocean, in hopes of upping
the “natural” salmon population.)

The National Marine Fisheries
Service must approve this lower-level cancellation by or before May
1, only months before the start to the official salmon fishing season
on the Pacific Coast. This marks the second year in a row that California
and Oregon fisherman will newest recommendation
would affect fishermen in California, Washingbe restricted from fully participating in
their pastime of choice, not to mention careers. Theton, Oregon and Alaska
(with its own new salmon and Pollock fishing regulations, limiting accidental
salmon catches to 60,000 or less, though it is unclear exactly how accidental
catches can be fully regulated, all the time). In related news, the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also came to the conclusion that the
Longfin smelt fish population around the Sacramento River does not need
to be listed as an endangered species (and as an extension, the extra
protection that label affords)… despite the fact that its numbers
are also noticeably lower this year.

At the meeting
of the Pacific Fishing Management Council, it was determined that South
of Cape Falcon, there should be a “complete closure of commercial
fisheries in ocean waters off California and a ten day ocean recreational
Chinook only season Off Eureka and Crescent City.” According to the
council, NOAA member Jane Lubchenko is hoped to be a part of the future
action to help “coordinate a comprehensive optimizing strategy for
salmon produced in California rivers, including the Sacramento-San Joaquin
and the Klamath-Trinity basins.”

Some of the recommended future mitigating
actions include hatchery reviews, “habitat protection measures…
including water management practices, biological opinions for Endangered
Species Act listed species, recommendations for monitoring and research
studies, and alternatives for future fishery management.”

Oregonian fishing companies were hit
with a ban as well, albeit a slightly more relaxed one, with the ban
mainly affecting Southern Oregon, for now. South of Cape Falcon Oregon
ocean fisheries will face a quote of 117,000 cohos, while Oregon commercial
fisheries would see a quota of about 11,000 cohos. North of Cape Falcon,
“recreational fisheries” would be restricted to 176,400 cohos while
“non-Indian commercial fisheries” would be limited to a “quota
of 33,600 mark-selective coho, about five times the 2008 coho quotas,”
and Chinook quotes would be “slightly better than in 2008 at 20,500
each,” with Indian fisheries in Oregon being allowed 39,000 Chinook
and 60,000 coho, if the council’s recommendations are approved.

Will this environmentally-friendly
maneuver in fact turn out to do more harm than good? Some have estimated
that the commercial fishing season reels in perhaps around $100 million
for local economies; in a recession, is it really wise to put such drastic
action to affect? Couldn’t the heads of the Pacific fisheries have
come to a more lenient conclusion, which would not be set up to drastically
alter the expected income for certain fishing cities? There is still
the question of whether the decreased salmon presence is entirely a
function of commercial fishing, or if the smaller number can also be
attributed to the ever-present population fluctuations in any dynamic
population. There is still hope that the National Marine Fisheries Service
will come to a solution, less harmful to communities relying heavily
on fishing for industry.