Saturday, April 12, 2008

Salmon population crash shuts down West Coast fishery

Environment News Service: The Pacific Fishery Management Council today closed the commercial and sport chinook fisheries off the coast of California and most of Oregon and will allow only a 9,000 fishery for hatchery coho only off of Central Oregon.

The council adopted the most restrictive salmon fishing quotes in the history of the West Coast in response to the unprecedented collapse of the Sacramento River fall chinook salmon population and the exceptionally poor status of coho salmon from Oregon and Washington. The recommendation will be forwarded to the National Marine Fisheries Service for approval by May 1, 2008.

"This is a disaster for West Coast salmon fisheries, under any standard," said council chairman Don Hansen. "There will be a huge impact on the people who fish for a living, those who eat wild-caught king salmon, those who enjoy recreational fishing, and the businesses and coastal communities dependent on these fisheries."

The council said in a statement that while it cannot explain why the fish are not returning, it is clear that overfishing did not cause the depressed condition, as the parent spawning populations were all above their escapement goal. The National Marine Fisheries Service has suggested ocean temperature changes, and a resulting lack of upwelling, as a possible cause of the sudden decline….

Photo of a salmon at the Chittenden Locks by Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons (GNU Free Documentation License)

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