After nearly record-low quantities of the fish, also known as chinook returned to California’s rivers last year. A federal regulatory body decided Thursday, April 6, 2023, to formally halt the king salmon fishing season along much of the West Coast.
The shutdown of the 2023 fishing season for all commercial and the majority of recreational chinook along the coast from Cape Falcon in northern Oregon to the California-Mexico border has been recommended by the Pacific Fisheries Management Council.
Fall recreational salmon fishing will be permitted just off Southern Oregon. According to a news release from Council Chair Marc Gorelnik:
“The forecasts for Chinook returning to California rivers this year are near record lows, The poor conditions in the freshwater environment that contributed to these low forecasted returns are unfortunately not something that the Council can or has authority to control.”
A season-long ban on salmon fishing was already enacted by California last month. That was only the second time in state history that salmon fishing had been suspended in California, according to CBS Bay Area, with the first suspension occurring between 2008 and 2009 due to drought circumstances.
After several years of drought, according to biologists, the population of chinook salmon has drastically decreased. For many in the fishing sector, the Trump administration’s regulations that made it easier to move more water from farmland to the Sacramento River Basin caused even more harm.
The shutdown affects adult fall-run chinook and is a setback for the salmon fishing sector in the Pacific Northwest. Salmon that are captured along the coast of Oregon frequently come from the Sacramento and Klamath Rivers in California.
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In the Pacific Ocean, where many are caught by commercial fishermen, they spend an average of three years maturing after hatching in freshwater before traveling back to their spawning grounds, where conditions are more favorable for giving birth. They perish after depositing eggs.
The council advises the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, who ultimately has the final say but traditionally defers to the council’s recommendations. Within days, the secretary’s decision will be published in the Federal Register. Spring-run chinook salmon are already listed as threatened under the Act.
In Oregon, only coho salmon will be allowed for recreational fishing throughout the summer and chinook after September 1. On the Columbia River and off the coast of Washington, as well as north of Cape Falcon, the salmon season is anticipated to begin as normal.
Few people are opposed to the closure even though it would effect tens of thousands of employment. Several fishermen claim they wish to act right away to ensure thriving stocks in the future.
They are hoping that help will come from the extraordinarily wet winter in California, which has mostly relieved the state of drought. Most of California’s reservoirs have been refilled by an unusual string of strong storms that dumped record amounts of rain and snow and ended a devastating three-year drought.
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