California Ocean Salmon Season Alternatives Announced

Press release from the California Department of Fish & Wildlife:

Fall-run chinook salmon in the American River just below the Nimbus Hatchery in Gold River, California on November 18, 2023. (CDFW Photo/Travis VanZant)

Fall-run chinook salmon in the American River just below the Nimbus Hatchery in Gold River, California on November 18, 2023. (CDFW Photo/Travis VanZant)

The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) has produced three options for ocean salmon seasons beginning May 16, 2024. Two of the three alternatives would authorize short ocean salmon season dates and establish small harvest limits for commercial and sport fishing off California in 2024. The third alternative would close the ocean fisheries off California for a second consecutive year. The alternatives were approved by the PFMC for public review Monday.

In response to several years of drought over the past decade, key California salmon target stocks are forecast to have 2024 abundance levels that, while higher than last year, are well below average. The 2024 stock abundance forecast for Sacramento River Fall Chinook, which is often the most abundant stock in the ocean fishery, is 213,600 adults. Meanwhile, abundance of Klamath River Fall Chinook is forecast at 180,700 adults. At this level of abundance, the Pacific Coast Salmon Fishery Management Plan authorizes only low levels of fishing on these stocks, and requires management be designed to allow most of the adult population to return to the river to spawn.

Commercial fishing alternatives propose a limited number of small quota fisheries, and would require vessel-based weekly trip limits that would apply in each open period. In-season action would be taken to close remaining season dates if total catch is expected to reach the harvest limit.

Recreational fishing alternatives would authorize up to seven short open fishing periods ranging from four to six days in length beginning in June and running through October. Scheduled dates would not be guaranteed and would be subject to two different statewide harvest guidelines. If the total sport catch reaches the limit prior to September, remaining dates prior to September would be canceled. Similarly, if total sport catch reaches the limit for dates scheduled in the months of September and October, remaining dates would be canceled.

In-season management and harvest limits are new concepts in management of commercial and recreational ocean salmon fisheries off California. Given the low abundance forecasts and spawner returns in recent years, it is crucial that any limited salmon fishing ultimately authorized be managed to ensure most of the fish return to the river this fall. Use of these strategies in 2024 ocean fisheries is expected to keep catches within pre-season projections.

On recommendation from California and Oregon agency representatives and industry advisors, the National Marine Fisheries Service took in-season action to cancel ocean salmon fishery openers that were scheduled between Cape Falcon, Oregon and the U.S./Mexico border that were scheduled to open prior to May 16, 2024. The sport fishery off much of California had been set to open in early April. Season dates and regulations may be found on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife web page at www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon.

On March 25, 2024, the PFMC will hold a public hearing in Santa Rosa to receive public comment on the three proposed regulatory alternatives. The PFMC will then meet April 5-11 in Seattle, Washington to adopt final regulations for the season. More information on the three alternatives can be found at this link or see Pacific Fishery Management Council (pcouncil.org) for information regarding PFMC meetings and public comment opportunities.

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tru matters
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tru matters
3 months ago

All Salmon fishing should be shut down for 10 years and river restorations done.

Bozo
Guest
Bozo
3 months ago
Reply to  tru matters

‘Restorations’ don’t matter.
If it rains, there will be salmon.
If it does not rain, no salmon.

Libertybiberty
Guest
Libertybiberty
3 months ago
Reply to  Bozo

One of the reasons is because they’re not letting enough water out of some of these dams for these fish to spawn

Martin
Guest
Martin
3 months ago
Reply to  Bozo

Restoration truly dues matter. For years rivers and spawning streams have been plugged with all kinds of debris from trees, dirt, rocks, slides, etc. The spawning streams are so plugged now that the fish are stopped from traveling upstream in many spots. They just stay there until they die. Many volunteer groups have tried to help, but some areas are above their ability to completely remove the debris. We need teams made up by our government with all the necessary equipment to open the streams and lets the fish reach their spawning grounds and spawn. The fry can return to the ocean and grow until they are ready to once again travel our rivers and streams providing good fishing for everyone.

F/V Doris
Guest
F/V Doris
3 months ago
Reply to  Bozo

Both of you are extremes that are part of the problem. One wants to go in and knock out all the dams. If that is done all at once the nitric oxide will wipe out all the salmon like happened in the Kalmath this year.

The corporate farmer stance is “if it rains, there will be salmon.” Pretty pat. Sounds simple to the simpleton. Appeals to the subgenious internet commentator from Kansas. Or the billionaire almond farmer for whom wiping out the salmon and the pesky guy who spent his life learning more about that fish than an MBARI marine biology department whose livelihood depends on is a wonderful career move, from whom that statement originates and gets replayed on Fox News. They like things to be “pretty pat”. It appeals to their uneducated viewers.

The reality is this: we are over pumping our rivers. The adults cannot reach their spawning beds. The babies are literally cooking in what little water is left. We are doing this to water a luxury crop that takes almost as much water as rice in one of the dryer regions of California which we ship over 90% of to China: Almonds.

In 2020, during the worst drought on record our governor bowed to the almond conglomerate and approved 327,000 new acres of almond farms, trashed the water agreements set by Governor Jerry Brown to protect our salmons water resource at the behest of #45, and allowed unrestricted pumping. Millions of baby fish died. The lifecycle of a salmon later, we have no fish. And no, no salmon fisherman has received a penny of subsidy or relief money. Personally I don’t think we should fish this year either.

I also think Gavin should pay the relief money out of his own investments. He can afford it, but justice is a fickle thing when it comes to criminals whose crimes impact millions.

Irony of ironies, 17 almond farms filed for bankruptcy this year. The price tanked. Maybe all those new acres put a glut on the market?

Zipline
Guest
Zipline
3 months ago

Salmon are going extinct. Get used to it. We’re next.

Pazuzu
Guest
Pazuzu
3 months ago

Salmon are not going extinct! But what will happen to the salmon off our coast will be caught in canda and Alaska by the commercial fisherman there. You can read about this happening its true so if we dont fish for them others will and they will be caught no matter what restriction we put on this fishery.

Wake up
Guest
Wake up
3 months ago
Reply to  Pazuzu

Not really true. They closed fishing this season and salmon where thick on the rivers in the fall

Zipline
Guest
Zipline
3 months ago
Reply to  Pazuzu

You want to save the salmon going to have to get rid of the people. In every instance people are the problem. Get rid of all the people and the salmon will be fine otherwise, extinct salmon….

Country Bumpkin
Guest
Country Bumpkin
3 months ago

Great concept… decades of management hasn’t helped the salmon populations, so let’s manage harder. Maybe we should outsource our management to the folks from Oregon or Washington. They seem to manage better if having enough fish for a fishing season is the goal.

D'Tucker Jebs
Member
3 months ago

Decades of management?
Where, exactly has this management been taking place?
One of the main reasons salmon are in the perilous state they’re in is because of a complete lack of management of logging, ranching, fishing, and water diversions.

Outside Looking In
Guest
Outside Looking In
3 months ago

At this level of abundance…”

Any level of “abundance” is, by definition, more than enough. Look it up, see what the word means for yourself.

ABA
Guest
ABA
3 months ago

No, actually. It’s a technical term and used correctly in this press release.

GILF
Guest
GILF
3 months ago

Salmon aren’t going extinct. Let’s fish.

D'Tucker Jebs
Member
3 months ago
Reply to  GILF

Opps. You forgot to provide data that supports your belief.
Or is it that there is no data to support your belief?

Ernie Branscomb
Guest
Ernie Branscomb
3 months ago