Ocean Fisheries Restricted to Protect Chinook
In a rare display of cooperation the California Department of Wildlife (CDFW) and commercial state fishing industry representatives of the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) agreed to further restrict ocean fisheries for Sacramento River winter-run Chinook. The ongoing drought is severely impacting winter-run chinook.
Commercial salmon fisheries season will open May 1, 2015. Seasons for commercial and sports fishing will be shortened this year. The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) adjusted the sport and commercial ocean fisheries to reduce impacts on winter-run Chinook to 17.5 percent. That is less then the maximum allowable rate of 19 percent under the Endangered Species Act..
Seasons for ocean fisheries had to be adjusted to reduce chances of harvesting adult winter-run Chinook. Ocean surveys showed that winter-run Chinook appear to concentrate south of Pigeon Point, especially south of Point Sur during late summer and fall. Shortening ocean fishing seasons and implementing size limit restrictions in these areas are expected to reduce chances of harvesting adult winter-run Chinook. Ocean fisheries experts expect these measures to minimize the catch-and release mortality of sub-adult fish as well.
Commercial salmon trollers also support the reduction of ocean fisheries quotas to protect the endangered winter-run Chinook.
Commercial season opens on May 1 and runs through August 15, 2015 from Pigeon Point to Point Sur. Ocean fisheries for salmon from Point Sur to the Mexican border is open from May 1 to July 31, 2015. That represents a reduction of almost nine weeks.
Sport fishery season from Pigeon Point to Point Sur runs from May to September 7, 2015. Ocean fisheries for salmon between Point Sur and the Mexican border close on July 29 of the year. It eliminates about 11 weeks of ocean fishing for salmon between July and October. Fishing between Point Arena and Pigeon Point closes eight days early.
The conservation measures agreed upon by commercial and sports fishing interests are an important step towards preventing further losses of winter-run Chinook salmon.
“Throughout this process we have been concerned about the impacts of the drought, and in particular the effects the drought ais having on our salmon stocks,” said Dan Wolford, President of the Coastside Fishing Club and the PFMC member representing California recreational fishing interests. “With the loss of the 2014 winter-run brood year it was apparent that we had to take extraordinary measures to help recover these fish.”
Please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/oceansalmon.asp for further information on restrictions on ocean fisheries. You can also call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (707) 576-3429.