Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

A summer-long salmon season?
March 10, 2007, Curry Pilot by By Tom Hubka
Sport fishers who want a salmon season without any days off in summer might get their wish this year.

Two of three options being considered by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) this week would allow recreational salmon fishing to begin in May and continue uninterrupted through September.

"We received word of the deals today," Port of Brookings Harbor Executive Director Dave Scott said Friday. "The first two options are far better than anything we've had since 2004."

One option would allow anglers to fish for Chinook salmon, like this one, from May 19 to Sept. 4. Wescom News Service/Bryant Anderson

The first option would allow the sport fishing season to begin May 19 and continue through September 4. The second would begin May 26 through Sept. 5.

The PFMC annually sets the salmon season for both recreation and commercial fishing. Depending on the year, seasons sometimes exclude weeks at a time, known as gaps.

Last year, sport fishers had from May 15 through July 4, and then another six days in September. This year's third option would also contain a gap: May 26 through July 4 and July 15 through September 9.

"These are only preliminary (options), but they look really solid," Brookings resident Jim Welter said.

Welter traveled to Sacramento this week to attend the PFMC's March meeting, when the council decides on the three options and prepares for its public hearings later this month.

So why the sudden generosity from the PFMC for this year's salmon season?

"Part of the reason was there was a tremendous return of 3-year-old fish on the Klamath," Scott said. The Klamath is one of many in-river waterways gauged to determine how long a salmon season can last in order to keep salmon populations stable.

This year's preseason forecast for 3-year-old Klamath River fall Chinook salmon was 515,400, the highest ever predicted. Last year's 3-year-old forecast was only 44,100.

"That's just a phenomenal number," Scott said of this year's forecast. "It's about 10 times what they expected. They can see that this is not a continuing downward trend."

"This is probably one of the easiest processes we've gone through (with PFMC) because of the abundance of Klamath fish," Welter, who has attended council meetings for more than 20 years, said.

But the forecast for 4-year-old Klamath Chinook was another story: estimated at 26,100, the lowest ever predicted.

The year's three options for the commercial salmon season have also been laid out this week by the council. The commercial area for the Southern Oregon Coast, known as the Klamath Management Zone, extends from Humbug Mountain to the Oregon-California border.

Unlike last year's initial call for no commercial season at all, the council's options this year allow periodic salmon fishing, except coho, from April through September while utilizing quotas.

Welter said he felt there was much more to be hoped for in a commercial season, but the quotas should give local fishermen a chance to have a more productive year.

If a quota is set for a certain month, he said, large fishing operations from out of the area are less likely to devote the time and money to travel to the area with little chance of making a major profit.

"The local people would have an ability to fill that void," Welter said. "I think it lets them go out there and make some money and helps them live."

The PFMC will hold three public meetings this month to allow the public to comment on the options. Oregon's meeting will be March 26, 7 p.m. at the Red Lion Hotel in Coos Bay.

The PFMC will make its decision for both seasons during its April meeting, held April 1 through April 6.

Reach Tom Hubka at thubka@currypilot.com

Home Contact


              Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:15 AM  Pacific

             Copyright klamathbasincrisis.org, 2007, All Rights Reserved