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HomeNewsCalifornia, Oregon Ban Salmon Fishing for 2023 Amid Dwindling Fish Population

California, Oregon Ban Salmon Fishing for 2023 Amid Dwindling Fish Population

Dwindling salmon populations in California and Oregon rivers have prompted the National Marine Fisheries Service to close commercial and sports fishing season in both states on March 15.

Salmon fishing season will remain closed in California and most of Oregon until 2024.

“This is a decades-long trend, and the past few years of record drought only further stressed our salmon populations,” said Charlton H. Bonham, Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

After spending years in the ocean, Pacific Chinook salmon return to lay eggs in the freshwater rivers, including the Sacramento and Klamath rivers.

Officials expect only about 170,000 salmon to reach the Sacramento River this year, one of the lowest forecasts since 2008 when they started counting.

In Klamath River, only about 104,000 could return, the second-lowest forecast since 1997, according to the fish and wildlife department.

This is the second salmon fishing closure on the west coast. A drought in 2008 and 2009 forced officials to cancel the season for the first time.

While it’s good for the fish, the closure could hurt some Native American communities, according to Save California Salmon, an organization made up of Native Americans and fishermen who rely on salmon fishing for their livelihood and food.

“This decision is going to put a lot of people out of business and lead to a lot of health problems for native people who rely on salmon for food,” the group’s executive director Regina Chichizola told The Epoch Times.

She said these communities have seen increased suicide rates, substance abuse, and poverty during past closures, causing people to lose their homes, boats, and cars.

Epoch Times Photo
A young fingerling Chinook salmon leaps out of the water after being released into a holding pen at Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on May 16, 2018. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Pacific Fishery Management Council, which manages fisheries along the west coast, is scheduled to hold a public meeting in Santa Rosa March 21 to consider three options (pdf) for the season. However, all three propose closing commercial and recreational salmon fishing in California until next year.

Commercial fishing in Oregon’s portion of the Klamath River region will be closed until 2024, but some sports fishing may open in the summer depending on the council’s decision.

The future looks brighter, however, for salmon habitat.

“The good news is that salmon numbers fluctuate, and we anticipate that the fish born this year will have better success [thanks to the ample precipitation received this year],” the fish and wildlife department’s spokeswoman Jordan Traverso told The Epoch Times.

On the McCloud River, the department worked last summer to return endangered winter-run Chinook eggs upstream of the Shasta Reservoir—for the first time since the dam was built in the 1940s, Traverso said.

Projects are also underway to could help restore salmon numbers, including the upcoming removal of four dams on the Klamath River by 2024.

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