Plentiful Salmon Drive Pacific
Fishery Management Council Options for 2012 Season
Author: Pacific Fishery Management Council, Mar 8,
the Klamath River, biologists are forecasting four times
more salmon than last year and an astounding 15 times more
than in 2006. The ocean salmon population is estimated to be
1.6 million adult Klamath River fall Chinook, compared to
last year's forecast of 371,100."
SACRAMENTO, Calif. March 7, 2012 - Encouraged
by predictions of plentiful salmon returns along the West Coast,
the Pacific Fishery Management Council released three
alternatives for managing salmon fisheries today. After hearing
public comment on the alternatives, the Council will make a
final recommendation at their next meeting in Seattle on April
"It is great to see such a nice rebound for California salmon
populations and the prospect of good fishing in 2012," said
Council chairman Dan Wolford.
Salmon fisheries in California and Oregon look particularly
promising, due primarily to good river conditions, and excellent
ocean conditions, for salmon. Sacramento, Klamath, and Rogue
River Chinook returns are expected to be significantly higher
than during the past several years, and Oregon Coast coho also
have a strong forecast; however, fishery alternatives are
necessarily constrained to protect Endangered Species Act-listed
Sacramento River winter Chinook and Columbia River coho stocks.
North of Cape Falcon, returns look similar to last year.
NORTHERN OREGON AND WASHINGTON (NORTH OF CAPE FALCON)
North of Cape Falcon, fisheries are expected to be similar to
last year. The Oregon Production Index coho forecast is 632,700
fish, about the same as last year. Columbia River hatchery coho
returns in 2011 were larger than forecast, but still below
average. Columbia River Chinook returns were generally lower
than forecast, but above historical averages.
About 742,500 summer and fall Chinook are expected to return to
the Columbia River compared to an actual return in 2011 of
684,400. The 2012 Columbia River tule Chinook forecasts are
mixed, but overall above average. The hatchery coho forecasts
for the Columbia River are slightly lower than last year while
the forecast for Oregon coastal natural coho is similar to last
year's actual return and the highest forecast since 1996.
Washington coast coho stock forecasts are generally higher than
last year, although Puget Sound coho forecasts are generally
Sport Season Alternatives
Ocean sport fishery alternatives north of Cape Falcon in Oregon
and off the Washington coast have seasons similar to 2011, with
mark-selective coho quotas ranging from 54,600 to 71,400 that
start in late June and run into September (last year, the quota
was 67,200 marked coho). For Chinook salmon, quotas range from
35,500 Chinook to 51,500 Chinook (last year, the quota was
64,600 Chinook). Two alternatives include a mark-selective
Chinook fishery in June.
Commercial and Tribal Season Alternatives
Non-Indian ocean commercial fishery alternatives north of Cape
Falcon include traditional Chinook seasons between May and
September. Chinook quotas for all areas and times range from
32,500-47,500, greater than the 2011 quota of 30,900. The marked
coho quotas range from 10,400 to 13,600 (compared to last year's
quota of 12,800).
Tribal ocean fishery alternatives north of Cape Falcon have
Chinook quotas ranging from 40,000 to 55,000 and coho quotas
ranging from 40,000 to 55,000, similar to last year's quotas of
41,000 Chinook and 42,000 coho.
CALIFORNIA AND SOUTHERN OREGON (SOUTH OF CAPE FALCON)
In the Klamath River, biologists are forecasting four times more
salmon than last year and an astounding 15 times more than in
2006. The ocean salmon population is estimated to be 1.6 million
adult Klamath River fall Chinook, compared to last year's
forecast of 371,100. This estimate is based largely on the
85,840 two-year-old salmon (jacks) that returned to the Klamath
in 2011. This is the highest number of jacks to return since at
least 1978, when record keeping began.
Sacramento stocks are also looking better, with a conservative
forecast of ocean abundance of 819,400 Sacramento River fall
Chinook, up from 729,000 last year. Adult spawners in the
Sacramento system are expected to be at least 436,000. The
spawning escapement objective is 122,000 - 180,000 adult
spawners, and the 2012 annual catch limit is at least 245,820
These returns are particularly important when seen in the
context of the last several years. Klamath and Sacramento stocks
drive ocean fishing seasons off California and Oregon. In 2008
and 2009, poor Sacramento returns led to the largest fishery
closures on record. In 2010, returns improved, allowing limited
commercial fishing season off California. In 2011, there were
commercial fishing seasons in Oregon and California areas at
various times between May 1 and September 30. Commercial
fishermen have noted that because of the series of poor years,
much of the capacity to fish commercially ďespecially in
California, ď has been lost.
Sport Season Alternatives
Oregon ocean recreational alternatives south of Cape Falcon open
for Chinook March 15 and run through September or October. Coho
fishery alternatives include mark-selective fisheries in July as
far south as the Oregon/California border and non-mark-selective
coho fisheries in September down to Humbug Mountain.
Ocean Chinook fishing alternatives in the Brookings/Crescent
City/Eureka area open in May and continue into September.
California ocean sport fishing alternatives generally start
April 7 and run through October or November from Fort Bragg
south, but size limits vary in the San Francisco and Monterey
areas to protect ESA-listed Sacramento winter-run Chinook.
Commercial Season Options
Commercial Chinook salmon season alternatives in the Tillamook,
Newport, and Coos Bay area open April 1 and run through October.
Oregon season options in the Brookings area open April 1 and run
through August or September, with monthly quota fisheries
starting in June.
California alternatives in Crescent City/Eureka have quota
fisheries in late September or are closed. In Fort Bragg,
commercial alternatives open in July or August and run through
September. In the San Francisco and Monterey areas, alternatives
open May 1 and run through September with some closures in June.
Along the south-central coast, season alternatives are open from
May 1 through September 30.
The Council also included alternatives for to collect genetic
stock identification samples from research fisheries in closed
times and areas. All fish caught in research fisheries would
have to be released unharmed after collection of biological
Public hearings to receive input on the alternatives are
scheduled for March 26 in Westport, Washington and Coos Bay,
Oregon; and for March 27 in Eureka, California. The Council will
consult with scientists, hear public comment, and revise
preliminary decisions until it chooses a final alternative at
its meeting during the week of April 1 in Seattle, Washington.
At its April 1-6 meeting in Seattle, the Council will narrow
these options to a single season recommendation to be forwarded
to National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for their final
approval before May 1.
All Council meetings are open to the public, and audio is
streamed online (for information on how to hear the online
audio, go to
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
On the Web
¬∑ Pacific Fishery Management Council:
¬∑ Options for 2012 salmon management will be
posted on the Council website (link above) this evening.
¬∑ Geographical points used in salmon management:
¬∑ Explanation of common terms used in salmon
 The conservation goal, or escapement goal, is
the optimal number of adult fish returning to spawn in order to
maximize the production of the stock. The annual catch limit is
the number of spawners associated with preventing overfishing on
an annual basis.
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