Pacific council wants commercial salmon fishing season cancelled again

Recreational fishing to be allowed for 10 days, but only in Eureka area

The Pacific Fishery Management Council decided Tuesday to cancel the commercial salmon fishing season in California waters for another year.

The decision, made Tuesday afternoon at the council's annual meeting in Millbrae, extends last year's ban for another year, after the recent dramatic decrease in fall Chinook salmon stocks in the Sacramento River.

Chuck Tracy, fishery analyst for the council, said Wednesday's decision also canceled recreational salmon fishing in California, except for a 10-day period from Aug. 29 through Sept. 7 in the Eureka/Crescent City area.

An estimated 775,000 adult Chinook salmon returned to the river to spawn in 2002, but that number decreased to 88,000 in 2007 and 66,200 in 2008.

The forecast for this year was 122,100 returning salmon, but that number is still not enough to support commercial and recreational fishing, the council said.

The fishing ban extends throughout California to southern Oregon, and will be devastating to small fishing communities, the council acknowledged.

A report on the 2007-08 Chinook collapse, released by the National Marine Fisheries Service in March, cited several causes, including poor ocean conditions, the degradation of the freshwater habitats and reliance on hatchery production.

The council will revisit the ban next year after its annual reevaluation of the health of salmon stocks.

The official start of the salmon fishing season normally begins May 1, and the council's decision will now be forwarded to the National Marine Fisheries Service for final approval.

Bay City News, Jeb Bing

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