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PFMC to consider ocean salmon options

BY ANDY MARTIN/WON Staff WriterPublished: Mar 07, 2018

ROHNERT PARK — Federal fishery managers will meet early next week to adopt a series of options for this summer’s ocean salmon seasons off of California, as well as the Klamath and Trinity rivers.

While drought conditions have led to poor returns of king salmon to the Sacramento and Klamath rivers the last few years, the ocean abundance for the Klamath is on the rebound, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.


The Pacific Fishery Management Council meets March 8-14 in Rohnert Park. The council is made up of representatives from California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho. It is responsible for managing salmon, halibut and bottom fish seasons on the West Coast. Options for this year’s ocean salmon season are set to be approved by the PFMC on either March 13 or 14. Final seasons will be adopted in April.


The good news heading into the meeting is the number of Klamath River fall king salmon in the ocean is much bigger than last year, biologists said after making their 2018 run forecasts last week. The forecasted ocean abundance for Sacramento River fall salmon is 229,400, similar to last year’s forecast of 230,700. The predicted ocean abundance of Klamath River fall salmon is 359,200, well above last year’s forecast of 54,200 Klamath River fall-run adults.


Last year, because of the poor forecast for the Klamath, the ocean sport salmon seasons out of Eureka, Trinidad, Crescent City and Brookings, Ore., were shut down, while fishing also was limited out of Fort Bragg and Shelter Cove. Commercial salmon fishing also was closed in Southern Oregon and Northern California.


Salmon fishing also was closed last year on the Klamath River after Aug. 15 and the Trinity after Sept. 1. The ocean was open out of San Francisco, where anglers often enjoyed wide-open salmon fishing out of the Golden Gate. Party boats reported limits almost daily.


The 2017 in-river returns for the Sacramento and Klamath rivers were below the minimum escapement goals, which could lead to restrictions on the 2018 ocean seasons. The number of jacks, or 2-year-old salmon, was up however, which could be an indicator salmon runs are on the rebounds. More jacks in 2017 could predict more adult kings in 2018, biologists said.


Last year, biologists predicted 18,400 adult kings would return to the Klamath. The final post-season escapement was 31,800 adult kings, well above the run forecast. The 2016 escapement was 27,353 adult kings.


Fishery managers will have to decide what impact below-average returns to the Sacramento River will have on the ocean seasons.


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