Fisheries council: Some restrictive seasons
April 16, 2020
The Pacific Fishery Management Council on April 10 adopted ocean salmon season recommendations that provide recreational and commercial opportunities for most of the Pacific coast and achieve conservation goals for the numerous individual salmon stocks on the West Coast.
The recommendations were forwarded to the National Marine Fisheries Service for approval by May 6.
“This year’s package includes some very restrictive seasons in both commercial and recreational fisheries along much of the coast. Uncertainties associated with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on markets, angler effort, and critical catch sampling, coupled with low Chinook and coho forecasts, made structuring the fisheries even more challenging this year,” said Council Chair Phil Anderson in a council news release.
The council heard reports from commercial, recreational, and tribal representatives about the challenges created by the pandemic, including difficulties in selling seafood to reduced markets, recreational fishery closures to protect public health, needed access to traditional food sources for tribal communities, and the inability to plan for the near future.
Fisheries north of Cape Falcon in northern Oregon are designed to allow harvest of healthy Chinook populations that are primarily destined for the Columbia River. These fisheries are severely limited by the need to conserve lower Columbia natural tule fall Chinook and coho stocks, including Columbia River and Oregon Coastal coho, which are listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and Queets River, Strait of Juan de Fuca and Snohomish coho salmon stocks, which are either classified as overfished or are currently rebuilding.
North of Cape Falcon, the overall non-Indian total allowable catch is 54,000 Chinook coastwide (compared to 52,500 last year) and 28,500 marked hatchery coho (compared to 190,000 last year).
Non-Indian ocean commercial fisheries north of Cape Falcon include traditional, but reduced, seasons in the spring (May-June) for Chinook and a summer season (July - mid-September) for Chinook and coho salmon. These fisheries will have access to 27,640 Chinook (compared to 26,250 Chinook last year), and a marked coho quota of 2,000 (compared to 30,400 marked coho last year).
The recreational fishery north of Cape Falcon opens with an all-salmon-except-coho fishery on June 20, transitioning to an all-species fishery on June 29 and continuing to September 30 or when Chinook or coho quotas are reached. Recreational fisheries in this area will have access to 26,360 Chinook (compared to 26,250 Chinook last year), and a marked coho quota of 26,500 (compared to 159,600 marked coho last year).
Tribal ocean fisheries north of Cape Falcon are similar in structure to past years, with a spring season targeting Chinook and a summer fishery for all species. Quotas include 35,000 Chinook and 16,500 coho (compared to 35,000 Chinook and 55,000 coho last year).