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West Coast King Salmon Fishing Season Officially Closed

West Coast King Salmon Fishing Season

The Pacific Fishery Management Council has announced the closure of the 2023 king salmon fishing season along most of the West Coast, affecting adult fall-run chinook, due to near-record low numbers of the fish that returned to California’s rivers last year. The closure covers the coast from Cape Falcon in northern Oregon to the California-Mexico border, which deals a significant blow to the Pacific Northwest’s salmon fishing industry.

The Council approved the closure of all commercial and most recreational chinook fishing, with limited recreational salmon fishing allowed off southern Oregon in the fall. Recreational fishing is expected to be allowed in Oregon only for coho salmon during the summer and for chinook after September 1st. However, salmon season is expected to open as usual north of Cape Falcon, including in the Columbia River and off Washington’s coast.

The decision follows biologists’ warnings that the chinook salmon population has decreased significantly after years of drought. Poor conditions in the freshwater environment that contributed to these low forecasted returns are unfortunately not something that the Council can control, according to biologists. Many in the fishing industry blame the Trump-era rules that allowed more water to be diverted from the Sacramento River Basin to agriculture for causing even more harm to the chinook salmon population.

Experts fear that native California salmon are spiraling towards extinction. California’s spring-run chinook is already listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, while winter-run chinook are endangered, along with the Central California Coast coho salmon. The Council is an advisory group to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, which makes the final decision, but it usually follows the council’s rulings. The secretary’s decision will be posted in the Federal Register within days.

Although the closure will affect tens of thousands of jobs, few are opposed to it. Many fishers say they want to take action now to guarantee healthy stocks in the future. They hope that the unusually wet winter in California, which has mostly freed the state of drought, will bring relief. An unprecedented series of powerful storms has replenished most of California’s reservoirs, dumping record amounts of rain and snow and busting a severe three-year drought. However, too much water running through the rivers could kill eggs and young hatchlings.

The closure of the king salmon fishing season is a significant setback for the Pacific Northwest’s fishing industry, with many worried about its long-term impact on both the industry and the environment. The Council’s decision highlights the need for sustainable fishing practices that can help conserve fish populations and ensure that they remain healthy for generations to come.

The closure of the king salmon fishing season along the West Coast has dealt a significant blow to the Pacific Northwest’s salmon fishing industry, affecting tens of thousands of jobs. However, few are opposed to the closure, as many fishers say they want to take action now to guarantee healthy stocks in the future.

Experts fear that native California salmon are in a spiral toward extinction. California’s spring-run chinook is already listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, while winter-run chinook are endangered along with the Central California Coast coho salmon.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council is an advisory group to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, which makes the final decision. Historically, the secretary has followed the council’s rulings, and the decision will be posted in the Federal Register within days.

Biologists say that the chinook salmon population has declined dramatically after years of drought, and poor conditions in the freshwater environment that contributed to these low forecasted returns are unfortunately not something that the Council can control. Many in the fishing industry blame Trump-era rules that allowed more water to be diverted from the Sacramento River Basin to agriculture for causing even more harm to the chinook salmon population.

After hatching in freshwater, salmon spend three years on average maturing in the Pacific, where many are caught by commercial fishermen, before migrating back to their spawning grounds, where conditions are more ideal to give birth. After laying eggs, they die. Much of the salmon caught off Oregon originates in California’s Klamath and Sacramento rivers.

Recreational fishing is expected to be allowed in Oregon only for coho salmon during the summer and for chinook after Sept. 1. Salmon season is expected to open as usual north of Cape Falcon, including in the Columbia River and off Washington’s coast.

The fishing industry in the Pacific Northwest is a significant contributor to the regional economy, and the closure of the king salmon fishing season will have a severe impact. The Pacific Fishery Management Council understands the economic implications of the closure and has taken action to ensure healthy stocks in the future.

Fishers hope that the unusually wet winter in California that has mostly freed the state of drought will bring relief. An unprecedented series of powerful storms has replenished most of California’s reservoirs, dumping record amounts of rain and snow and busting a severe three-year drought. However, too much water running through the rivers could kill eggs and young hatchlings.

The Council’s decision to close the king salmon fishing season is a difficult but necessary step to ensure the survival of the chinook salmon population. Many are optimistic that this action, combined with efforts to address the root causes of the decline, will lead to healthy stocks in the future.

In the meantime, the fishing industry in the Pacific Northwest will have to adapt to the closure of the king salmon fishing season. Many are likely to shift their focus to other types of seafood or alternative fisheries, but the closure will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the region’s economy.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council’s decision to close the 2023 king salmon fishing season along most of the West Coast is a necessary step to ensure the survival of the chinook salmon population. Although the closure will have a severe impact on the Pacific Northwest’s salmon fishing industry, many fishers understand the importance of taking action now to guarantee healthy stocks in the future. The Council’s decision, combined with efforts to address the root causes of the decline, will hopefully lead to the recovery of the chinook salmon population and the long-term sustainability of the fishing industry in the Pacific Northwest.

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