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http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jan2008 ... 29-092.asp
California Chinook Salmon Numbers Hit Record Low
PORTLAND, Oregon, January 29, 2008 (ENS) - California Central Valley fall Chinook salmon stocks appear to be undergoing a "significant decline," said Pacific Fishery Management Council Director Donald McIsaac today.

Dr. McIsaac warned that if the low abundance is confirmed, all marine and freshwater fisheries that target these salmon stocks could be affected.

"The low returns are particularly distressing since this stock has consistently been the healthy work horse for salmon fisheries off California and most of Oregon," he said.

The Pacific Council is a federal advisory panel responsible for managing fisheries off the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington.

Chinook salmon in a freshwater stream (Photo courtesy NOAA)
Chinook salmon are also called king, spring, or tyee salmon, and are the largest of the Pacific salmon. Chinook salmon are highly prized by commercial, sport, and subsistence fishers. Like all Pacific salmon, chinook are anadromous, which means they hatch in freshwater streams and rivers, migrate to the ocean for feeding and growth, and return to their natal waters to spawn.

California Central Valley fall run Chinook salmon spawn in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River Basins and their tributaries.

California Central Valley fall Chinook salmon are not on the federal endangered species list, but they were classified as a Species of Concern on April 15, 2004.

Last week, the Council's Salmon Technical Team met to tabulate salmon returns and catches. Two areas of bad news emerged.

First, in 2007 the adult spawning escapement for Sacramento River fall Chinook salmon failed to meet the escapement goal of 122,000 to 180,000 adults for the first time in 15 years.

Sacramento River fall Chinook is the largest component of Central Valley Chinook.

The escapement goal, or conservation objective, is the optimal number of adult fish returning to spawn in order to maximize the production of the stock.

Second, the count of "jacks" in the Central Valley fall Chinook return this past fall was at a record low. Only 2,000 jacks returned, compared to a long-term average of about 40,000 and the previous record low of 10,000.

Jacks are immature fish that return to the rivers at age two, unlike adult fish, which return at age three or four. Their numbers are used to forecast future returns. This suggests that 2008 abundance will probably also be weak.

Last week, scientists questioned whether returns in 2008 could meet the conservation objective even without any commercial or recreational salmon fishing.

If returns do not meet the conservation objective, an emergency rule from National Marine Fisheries Service may be required to allow any fisheries at all, Dr. McIsaac said.

The reason for the decline is unclear, he said. Both hatchery and naturally produced fish have been negatively affected, and returns of coastal stocks in Oregon, in the Columbia River, and in British Columbia were all low in 2007.

"The decline seems to be a coastwide phenomenon, probably related to ocean conditions," he said.

The implications of a precipitous decline could be substantial for both commercial and recreational fisheries coastwide. In 2006, a similar decline in Klamath stocks led to major cutbacks in salmon fishing opportunities.

Sacramento River salmon have a greater range than Klamath River stocks, and are caught in California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. They are considered the "driver" of commercial fisheries in Oregon and California, explained Dr. McIsaac.

The Council will consider these numbers and set harvest levels this spring. In three to four weeks, the Council will release estimates of salmon abundance for 2008.

Then, at its March 8-14 meeting in Sacramento, California, the Council will develop a range of management options. Salmon management discussions begin on Tuesday, March 11, when the Council will review 2007 salmon fisheries, discuss stock abundance estimates, and tentatively adopt salmon management measures for analysis by Council technical teams and scientists.

Friday, the Council is scheduled to adopt management options for public review. These options will probably range from status quo harvest levels to significant closures.

Public hearings to receive input on the options are scheduled for March 31 in Westport, Washington and Coos Bay, Oregon, and for April 1 in Eureka, California. The Council will consult with scientists, hear public comment, and revise preliminary decisions until it chooses a final option at its meeting during the week of April 7 in Seattle.

All Council meetings are open to the public. Based on previous experience with Klamath fisheries, the Council expects there to be a large public turnout at both the March and April meetings and the public hearings.

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 three to 200 miles offshore of the U.S. coastline.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.

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So how far do these fish migrate from that area? I guess saying that commercial overharvest in Alaska on these stocks is probably way off base and doesn't need to be addressed.
 

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The article states they migrate as far north to BC but the local common knowledge is that they only migrate north to the Central Oregon coast and then as far south as Los Angeles area.

In early spring the fish are targeted off of SoCal in 300 ft deep water. As we get into May and June most of the southern fish are in the SF Bay area from Monterey to just north of San Francisco. The northern fish are spread from the California – Oregon border area and south to the Ft Bragg area. These northern fish are doing much better and while the Klamath wasn't spectacular last year, it was still good.


I fish a lot in California and can tell you that the fishing down there the last 2 years has been terrible and these predications are probably right on. And did you see the jack return? Only 2000 fish. Not good. sick:


I have a trip scheduled on April 12 out of Half Moon Bay in the SF area. We’ll see if these predictions come true.
 

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I find this to be amazing timing. We are seeing reports in the papers from marine biologists that think the local Orcas are heading south to California to look for salmon. If California Chinook are at record lows, and they are predicting record numbers of returns here for spring...which is it? I wish these dorks would get their stories straight cause you can't have it both ways.

It seems these guys just blurt out stories to cover their poor research in hopes that we'll knee jerk a reaction like closing the sport chinook season in Washington.

Here's an idea. Let's stop these rediculous treaties that are 100's of years old and outdated. I don't understand why the tribes need to secure salmon to sell when the money they make from the casinos far execedes anything they pull in from fish in the past few years.

Where is the sanity in our fisheries?
 

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I fish the Sacramento, Trinity Feather etc and no one knows whats is going on. Everyone is pointing fingers. I tend to think it is a natural cycle like the predator pit. The huge salmon runs while out in the ocean impact the food source and then it crashes. The salmon predators also increase following the salmon supply and then there is a cross over point and the salmon crash. Now the predators will crash and the food supply will rebound and in a few years so will salmon survival.
 

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"I tend to think it is a natural cycle like the predator pit. The huge salmon runs while out in the ocean impact the food source and then it crashes. The salmon predators also increase following the salmon supply and then there is a cross over point and the salmon crash. Now the predators will crash and the food supply will rebound and in a few years so will salmon survival."

And then the fisheries managers intervene trying to stop the cycle to try and keep the commercial and tribal fishers happy, while the sports fishers scratch their heads trying to figure out what just happened...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I always heard that the salmon of the west coast head to Alaska! Hearing that commercial fleets in Alaska have taken the fourth largest haul since statehood. I think that reason has alot to do with it than say global warming! I think overharvest at least should be looked at and it is not even mentioned!
 

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California does not have the same rape and slaughter from commercials and tribes like we do here in Washington. Thus the overharvesting issue is not high on the list.
Their commercial fishery does not allow for nets and they only have a couple of places in the far north where tribes are allowed to fish. The run in question is the Sacramento River run and there is no legal harvesting allowed in the river system other than sport.

Also, not only have the salmon runs dwindled but the striped bass and forage fish populations in the Sacramento River Delta system have been decimated. Some scientists think they are at 10% of recent average. A lot of fingers are pointing at water supply and diversion.
 
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