California’s Salmon Season Faces Second Year Closure

By Carli Stewart.

All commercial and recreational salmon fishing will be prohibited in California for the second year in a row. The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) announced Wednesday that they have adopted ocean salmon fishing recommendations along the Pacific west coast. They stated that the season will provide recreational and commercial opportunities in northern areas of the coast. Still, significant reductions and closures will be in the southern portions of the coast to achieve conservation goals for Chinook and coho salmon stocks.

PFMC cited low numbers for the Sacramento River winter Chinook, Central Valley Spring Chinook, and Upper-Sacramento River fall Chinook Salmon. According to the Seattle Times, the state of Calif. salmon population is struggling with the effects of the severe drought that gripped the state from 2020 to 2022. Many of the young salmon were killed due to the hotter temperatures and lower water levels.

Fishing and environmental groups stated that state and federal water managers should have kept more water in rivers and behind dams to reduce the impact on the species. During the drought, cities, farms, and fishing interests battled for limited water supplies.

“It’s heartbreaking. It’s a travesty. State and federal water managers are devastating our rivers. They are removing vast amounts of water and creating lethally high temperatures in those rivers that are destroying salmon,” Scott Artis, executive director of the Golden State Salmon Association, told the press.

“If you kill all the baby salmon through California water policy, then two or three years later, you aren’t going to have adults returning, or very few. This is the governor’s legacy.”

The forecasts for West Coast Chinook and coho stocks are a mixed bag in 2024, stated PFMC. There are some low and high points when compared to last year. “The forecasts for Chinook returning to California rivers this year are again very low,” said the council’s chair, Brad Pettinger.