“Fishery Failure” Declared
for West Coast Salmon Fishery
Declaration Clears Path for Congressional
of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez today declared a commercial
fishery failure for the West Coast salmon fishery due to historically
low salmon returns. The unprecedented collapse of the salmon
population will hit fishermen, their families, and fishing
communities hard, and that is why we have moved quickly to
declare a fishery disaster," Gutierrez said. "Our scientists
are working to better understand the effects that ocean changes
have on salmon populations. We are also working closely with
fishing communities to improve salmon habitat in river systems
to support sustainable fishing.
of thousands of fall Chinook salmon typically return to the
Sacramento River every year to spawn. This year, scientists
estimate that fewer than 60,000 adult Chinook will make it
back to the Sacramento River.
is far below what is needed to sustain the population and
we have decided to shut down the commercial ocean salmon fishery
for all of California and most of Oregon to aid their recovery,"
said Jim Balsiger, NOAA's Fisheries Service acting assistant
administrator. "It's a tough decision, but the condition of
the salmon fishery forces us to close most of it to ensure
healthy runs of this valuable fish in the future."
the reasons for the sudden decline of the fishery are not
completely understood, NOAA scientists suggest that changes
in ocean conditions, including unfavorable shifts in ocean
temperature and food sources for juvenile salmon, likely caused
poor survival of salmon that would have comprised this year's
fishery. Loss of freshwater habitat for salmon spawning, rearing,
and migration to the ocean is a chronic problem that has made
salmon populations more susceptible to the occasional poor
salmon stocks off Washington and northern Oregon, while in
slightly better shape, are still far below normal, and there
will be substantially curtailed commercial fishing off those
areas as well. A small recreational fishery off Oregon's northern
coast and targeted on hatchery-produced coho salmon will be
disaster declaration opens the door for Congress to appropriate
money towards alleviating the financial hardship caused by
the fishery disaster.