FORT BRAGG, 3/13/23 — Salmon season isn’t closed for all of 2023 yet. But all three recommended alternatives to be considered by regulators at a week-long meeting beginning April 1 would close the California fishery for all of 2023 if followed. However, this is not a certainty. In years past, changes have been made during the public process that is still ongoing. Numerous media reports, such as this Bay Area news broadcast, have misconstrued the existing closures as being for the entire season.
Sport salmon fishing groups and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA) recommended March 4 that the salmon fishing season be canceled. This was accompanied by a push to get a federal disaster declaration to aid fishermen. The suggestion by the fishing groups, who knew the PCFFA was considering closure, was widely reported as a closed salmon fishing season even before last week’s PCFFA meeting. Temporary closures of the early part of the season, when few salmon are caught in California, are not infrequent, and no decision on actually closing salmon season will be made until the April 1-7 meeting of the Pacific Fishery Management Council. In the past, alternatives have been modified when innovative proposals have been made by environmentalists or the fishing industry.
Coverage of the meeting last week by The Mendocino Voice: https://mendovoice.com/2023/03/regional-salmon-regulatory-body-hears-scary-salmon-science-at-meetings-all-week/
Also, the PFMC does not close seasons; it must be done by state agencies, contrary to reports. Oregon’s picture is much different and the three options would have different impacts there. Washington also has a rosier picture, but there were reports at the meeting that fish from south of the Washington border could have an impact on the decision there.
Based on the information from last week’s meeting and action from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), both Oregon and California fishing regulators canceled salmon season through mid-May. Few fish are caught in Northern California during those months. The biggest salmon returns, and most of the fishing happens in summer and fall.
For ocean salmon fisheries on the West Coast, NOAA Fisheries works with the Pacific Fishery Management Council to establish annual harvest levels in federal waters from three to 200 miles off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California. In addition, adult salmon returning to Washington and Oregon migrate through both U.S. and Canadian waters and are harvested by fishermen from both countries. The U.S. and Canadian governments work with tribes, states, and sport and commercial fishing groups to provide for shared conservation and harvest objectives. These proceedings are guided by the 1985 Pacific Salmon Treaty that is implemented through the Pacific Salmon Commission.
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