West Coast Cancels Salmon Fishing

Declining salmon populations deliver an economic punch to West Coast fishers

06-01-2008 // Hannah Schardt

DUE TO THE PERILOUSLY low number of chinook salmon returning to spawn in California’s Sacramento River, federal authorities have canceled the West Coast salmon fishing season altogether for the first time in history. Both commercial and recreational fishing were declared off-limits last month by the National Marine Fisheries Service, and U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez declared a commercial fishery disaster, allowing the fishermen and women in California, Oregon and Washington to apply for federal financial assistance to offset the estimated $290 million in lost revenues.

Scientists predict that only 60,000 salmon will return to the Sacramento River this year to spawn, one-third of what is required to maintain a healthy population. Only six years ago, the river’s chinook population numbered 775,000.

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