- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 14, 2023

The National Marine Fisheries Service announced Friday that the rest of the 2022-23 salmon fishing season off the Pacific Coast between Cape Falcon in northern Oregon and the Mexican border was canceled. Salmon fishing off California was halted until 2024.

The regulatory action was taken to protect the fall Chinook salmon population of the Klamath River, which spans Oregon and California, and the Sacramento River in California. 

The 2023 Klamath River fall Chinook population is projected at almost 104,000 adult fish, the second lowest number since 1997. The 2023 Sacramento River fall Chinook population is projected at almost 170,000, the lowest total since 2008, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council has produced alternatives for the rest of 2023 and into 2024. 

All three proposals would see the area between Humbug Mountain in Oregon and the California-Mexico border closed to commercial fishing until at least March 2024 in Oregon waters and until at least April 2024 for California waters.

Recreational salmon fishing off the California coast would also be shut down until at least April 2024. One of the three alternatives proposed also shuts down recreational fishing from Humbug Mountain to the Oregon-California border.

This would mark only the second time that California has had its ocean salmon fishing shut down entirely. The first time occurred in 2008-09, also under drought conditions.

California’s salmon industry is fraught at the loss of a whole year’s worth of fishing. Some suggest a ban is too drastic, that a strict enforcement of fishing quotas would be preferable.

“We’re screwed, pure and simple. We have seen less fish in recent years, but an outright ban is ridiculous. A stringent max number would have been better. … If we are shot down for an entire year, that’s going to be the end for many of us,” Orrin Lambert, who runs private charter fishing trips, told the California Globe.

Associated industries are also hurt by the shuttering of salmon season. For Tim Elie, vice president of Outdoor Pro Shop in Cotati, California, salmon fishing represents around 40% of sales.

“So, it’s cutbacks and ordering less and having less product available. This affects people that sell bait, fuel, ice, boat dealers, boat mechanics. It’s far stretching, the impact that a closed salmon season has,” Mr. Elie told KPIX-TV, a San Francisco CBS affiliate.

• Brad Matthews can be reached at bmatthews@washingtontimes.com.

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