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Salmon seasons set for Oregon, California, Washington coasts

by DONNA GORDON BLANKINSHIP, Seattle Post Intelligencer 4/6/07

SEATTLE -- After nearly shutting down salmon fishing off the Oregon and California coasts last year, the Pacific Fisheries Management Council decided Friday to allow as much fishing as possible in those improved fisheries.

This year's restrictions fall to the north - off the coast of Washington and in Puget Sound, said Chuck Tracy, salmon staff officer for the council.

"Last year, the area of central Oregon and the California fishers were very constrained. This year, the Klamath Falls chinook has made a turnaround. They have basically as much fishing time as possible," Tracy said.

He said the length of the Oregon and California season and the quotas set for commercial and recreational fishermen will be close to those of a traditional season.

The salmon season extending south from Cape Falcon, about 30 miles south of the mouth of the Columbia River, to the Mexican border will open on a series of dates between April and October this year - with different dates and quotas for each of eight geographic areas. Next year, the season will open on March 15 for all salmon except coho.

The quota for the Klamath River recreational fishery was set at 10,400. The Klamath Tribe was given a quota of 40,800 chinook. Commercial fishermen were given per vessel quotas of 100 chinook per week in April, and 75 per week per vessel in September and October. Some areas have more specific restrictions, such as which ports are open on which days.

North of Cape Falcon to the Canadian border, the season is limited to dates in May through September, and the quotas have been cut for commercial fishing. Most recreational fishing has been curtailed as well, but there will be some increases in coho quotas, Tracy said.

The council set an overall non-Indian quota for the Washington fisheries of 32,500 chinook and 140,000 coho for 2007.

"Commercial fisheries catch primarily chinook, so they're going to face a much tougher time this year," said Tracy, who said the quotas for Washington fishing were among the lowest since 1994.

He said the council had some difficult negotiations during its meeting in Seattle this week, particularly over the salmon season within Puget Sound.

A commercial fisherman from California expressed anger concerning the negotiation process after the meeting ended in suburban SeaTac, even though the restrictions set by the council would not affect his salmon catch near Eureka, Calif.

Dave Bitts called the restrictions placed on Washington commercial fishing "totally politically motivated" and said government officials did not show scientific proof to support the quotas.

"I was amazed that people weren't running around looking for pitchforks," said Bitts who has been a commercial fisherman for about 30 years. "I thought they were way too civil about it."

On the Net:

Pacific Fisheries Management Council: http://www.pcouncil.org
 

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