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http://www.sacbee.com/114/story/133310.html

Big Klamath River chinook salmon run may ease restrictions
March 6, 2007 Sacramento Bee
Followed by Thousands of chinook returned to Klamath River
Santa Cruz Sentinel

Chinook salmon returned to the Klamath River by the thousands this past fall in contrast to the sharp decline in chinook found in the Sacramento River and its tributaries.

The Klamath River count will likely lead to fewer restrictions on local salmon fishermen this year, said biologist Marc Heisdorf, who monitors the salmon population for the California Department of Fish and Game.

Heisdorf said Monday that he doesn't expect this year's Klamath River salmon fishing restrictions to be as severe as last year due because of the high count. Salmon season opens next month for sport fishermen and in May for commercial boats.

As many as 65,000 chinook returned to the Klamath River during the fall run, nearly double the minimum required by state and federal fisheries regulators who monitor the declining population.

Hundreds of commercial salmon fishermen from Eureka to Morro Bay were stuck in port last season because of three consecutive years of declining numbers of chinook in the river.

The federal Pacific Fishery Management Council will discuss this year's restrictions Friday in Sacramento and season guidelines are scheduled to be approved April 6.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council said the Sacramento River area salmon count was about half the previous season run, the lowest numbers since 1992. In the Sacramento River, there were an estimated 435,000 chinook.
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http://www.santacruzsentinel.com:80/archive/2007/March/06/local/stories/05local.htm

Thousands of chinook returned to Klamath River

by TOM RAGAN Santa Cruz Sentinel MOSS LANDING 3/6/07

Thousands of chinook returned to the Klamath River this past fall, which likely means fewer restrictions on local salmon fishermen this year, a state fisheries expert said Monday.

Marc Heisdorf, a marine biologist whose job is to monitor the salmon population for the California Department of Fish and Game, said he doesn't expect this year's salmon fishing restrictions to be as severe as last year due to the plenitude. Salmon season opens in early April for sport fishermen and in May for commercial boats.

As many as 65,000 chinook returned to the Klamath River during the fall run, nearly double the minimum required by the state and federal fisheries regulators who monitor the declining population.

Last year commercial salmon fishermen were all but banned from fishing off the California Coast for most of the summer the result of three consecutive years of declining numbers of chinook in the river. Marine biologists said more Klamath River fish needed to make it back to the river to spawn to ensure the run's survival, so hundreds of commercial salmon fishermen from Eureka to Morro Bay were stuck in port. Sport fishermen thousands chase the sought-after chinook up and down the coast also saw season restrictions.

"This year, I'd imagine that the closer you are to the Klamath River, the more restrictions you'll have and the fewer salmon you'll be able to catch," Heisdorf said from his office in Santa Rosa. "But it looks like the Monterey Bay is going to be OK this year"

Yet even the optimistic Heisdorf tempered his prediction, adding "anything can happen"

The federal Pacific Fishery Management Council is set to discuss this year's restrictions Friday in Sacramento. Season guiedlines are scheduled ti be approved April 6, the day before sports fishing season begins. The commercial season opens May 1.

Though the council is a federal agency that is part to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the state Department of Fish and Game generally follows NOAA's recommendations, said Steve Martarano, a spokesman for Fish and Game. Advertisement

"The restrictions always range between being really conservative, midway or liberal," Martarano said. "We'll see what happens this year"

But Heisdorf said he doesn't foresee any problem, especially in light of the fact that nearly 300,000 chinook have returned to the Central Valley rivers well over the minimum 122,000 chinook required under the chinook conservation program.

The population cycle involving the chinook works this way: the fish generally leave the rivers and swim into the ocean at ages 1 and 2.

Between 2 and 4, they live in the ocean, then return to the rivers to spawn.

Once they swim upstream to spawn, they die, according to Heisdorf.

But new eggs have been fertilized and new fish born, creating a new cycle.

But the chinook population in the Klamath River has seen better days, which resulted in last year's closures.

"We had no income. I lost thousands of dollars," said Dennis Wong, owner of Woodward Marine, a fishing supply store in Moss Landing. "It wasn't the worst I'd ever seen in terms of no fish, but it was the worst I've seen in terms of government intervention"

Contact Tom Ragan at tragan@santacruzsentinel.com.
 

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