Chinook salmon. (Photo: NOAA)
Major salmon season ahead for west coast fishers
Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 02:20 (GMT + 9)
The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) has determined a set of ocean salmon seasons providing commercial opportunities coastwide. California and Oregon fishers especially will benefit from higher-than‐usual salmon returns in the Sacramento and Klamath Rivers this year.
The recommendation will be sent to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for approval by 1 May.
“After achieving all the conservation goals for weak stocks in 2012, both recreational and commercial ocean salmon fishermen should enjoy a good season this summer,” said Council Chairman Dan Wolford.
The largest number of returning Sacramento River fall chinook since 2005 will enrich ocean salmon fisheries off California and Oregon. In 2008 and 2009, poor Sacramento returns led to the largest ocean salmon fishery closure ever.
For 2012, the abundance forecast of Sacramento River fall chinook is 819,400 -- far above the number needed for optimum spawning this fall (122,000‐180,000). The Klamath River fall chinook forecast is about four times greater than average and the highest since 1985.
These two rivers are the state's top spawning grounds.
This year, there are 1.65 million adult chinook in the ocean from the Klamath River near the Oregon border, according to the PFMC.
"It's about as big of a rebound as we could have hoped for, when you're talking about record or near-record forecasts coming from unprecedented closures," said Chuck Tracy, the council's salmon staff officer, San Jose Mercury News reports. "It's all the way from the bottom to the top in three years."
The Oregon Coast natural coho forecast is about 290,000, the largest since at least 1996.
Fisheries north of Cape Falcon (near Nehalem in northern Oregon) depend largely on Columbia River stocks. Columbia River fall Chinook returns in 2011 were above average, and 2012 forecasts are similar.
Columbia River hatchery coho returns are below average and lower than 2011 returns, but Washington coastal and Puget Sound stocks are mostly above average. North of Cape Falcon, there is an overall non‐Indian total allowable catch (TAC) of 99,000 chinook and 83,000 marked hatchery coho.
Non-Indian ocean commercial fisheries north of Cape Falcon include traditional chinook seasons in May‐June and all‐salmon seasons in July‐to‐September. The Chinook quotas of 31,700 in May‐June and 15,800 in the all-species fisheries are about 50 per cent higher than last year.
The coho quota of 13,280 is similar to 2011’s of 12,800. Tribal ocean fisheries north of Cape Falcon are similar to recent years, although chinook quotas are higher.
- Salmon numbers rising in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
By Natalia Real
Photo Courtesy of FIS Member National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA/NMFS