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Salmon Seasons Announced

US - The Pacific Fishery Management Council today adopted a set of salmon seasons that provides both recreational and commercial opportunities coastwide for the first time since 2007.

The recommendation will be forwarded to the National Marine Fisheries Service for approval by May 1, 2010.

“While modest at best in historical terms, this season represents a substantial improvement over the seasons in California and Oregon in the last two years. It will be good to have fishermen back on the water,” said Council chairman Dave Ortmann.

North of Cape Falcon

Fisheries north of Cape Falcon (near Nehalem in northern Oregon) depend largely on Columbia River stocks. Columbia River fall Chinook returns in 2009 were mostly above average, although the North Lewis River wild return was slightly less than the management objective of 5,700 adults. Forecasts for 2010 were generally above average, including a record high for the Spring Creek Hatchery stock. Columbia River hatchery coho returning to the river mouth were the highest since 2001. However, the 2010 forecast is substantially lower than in 2009.

North of Cape Falcon, there is an overall non-Indian total allowable catch of 117,000 Chinook and 80,000 marked hatchery coho.

Commercial Fisheries

Non-Indian ocean commercial fisheries north of Cape Falcon include traditional Chinook seasons in the May-June timeframe and all-salmon seasons in the July-to-September timeframe. The Chinook quota of 56,000 is more than twice the 2009 quota. The coho quota of 13,000 is about one-third of the 2009 quota.

Tribal ocean fisheries north of Cape Falcon are similar to recent years, although coho quotas are also much smaller than in 2009.

South of Cape Falcon

Fisheries south of Cape Falcon are supported by Sacramento River fall Chinook. In 2008 and 2009, poor Sacramento returns led to the largest fishery closure on record. In 2009, adult spawning escapement for Sacramento River fall Chinook failed to meet the escapement goal1 (122,000‐180,000 adults) for the third year in a row, leading to the formal declaration of an overfishing concern (although fishing is not considered one of the major causes of the stock’s decline). The forecast for the Sacramento Index of ocean abundance in 2010 is 245,500 adults, which provides adequate numbers for limited fisheries.

The Klamath River fall Chinook forecast for 2010 is sufficient to allow some fishing opportunity. The Oregon Coast natural coho forecast in 2010 is about 70 per cent of last year’s forecast, but still above the 15 year average.

Commercial Fisheries

Commercial fisheries from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt., Oregon will be open from May 1 through August 25 with some three-day-a-week closures in July. Fisheries in the Humbug Mt. to California border area will be open in May, July and August, with the July and August fisheries on quotas of 1,500 Chinook for each month.

Commercial fisheries in California are very limited, but will include two four-day openers in July south of Point Arena, and additional quota fisheries in the Fort Bragg area during late July and August.

California and Oregon fisheries also include a catch-and-release genetic study during closed periods.

Process

The Council developed the management measures after several weeks spent reviewing three season options. The review process included input by federal and state fishery scientists, fishing industry members, public testimony, and three public hearings in coastal communities. The Council received additional scientific information and took public testimony before taking final action. The decision will be forwarded to the National Marine Fisheries Service for approval and implementation into federal regulations.

In addition, the coastal states will decide on compatible freshwater fishery regulations at their respective Commission hearings.

Council Role

The Pacific Fishery Management Council is one of eight regional fishery management councils established by the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 for the purpose of managing fisheries 3-200 miles offshore of the United States of America coastline. The Pacific Council recommends management measures for fisheries off the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington.

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