Salmon fishing is under threat

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer Jerry Herman dies at 88 The problems affecting salmon in the Klamath River – aging dams, poor water quality, deadly parasites attacking young fish, and battles over allocating scarce water between farms and wildlife – remain. “For so many years we were told nobody wants your product, they just want it cheap,” Snow said. “We finally turn the tide, and now this. “I’m sure if we have a zero season or a severely restricted season, some people will go broke, and it doesn’t really need to be,” he said. “We need proper science and agreements with water users for habitat.” The Pacific Fishery Management Council makes its final decision the first week of April. If it shuts down sport and commercial salmon fishing from Cape Falcon on the northern Oregon Coast to Point Sur south of San Francisco, salmon won’t disappear from supermarkets. Sixty percent of world supply is farm-raised in Chile, Norway and Canada, and the bulk of the ocean catch – pink and sockeye – comes from Alaska. The 668,000 chinook or king salmon caught by some 1,200 active West Coast trollers last year account for less than 1 percent of U.S. consumption. But it is the filet mignon of salmon, prized for superior taste and texture as well as heart-healthy oils. The demand for wild salmon has encouraged fishermen to boost their prices by handling their fish carefully – bleeding them before putting them on ice, avoiding bruising, and sometimes flash-freezing them at sea. Some will still be caught off southeast Alaska and Washington, and small harvests may be allowed inside state waters off Oregon and California. But millions of pounds will be off the market. Mark Newell, a salmon fisherman and wholesaler who serves on the Oregon Salmon Commission, said the $3.18 per pound he was paying fishermen last year is likely to go over $4 this year if there is any fishing allowed. “They’re saying next year doesn’t look any better than this year,” said Newell. “If you lose this for two years, you’ll lose a lot of these fishermen.” Commercial salmon landings last year were worth $13 million in Oregon and $23.3 million in California, according to the council. Recreational fisheries were worth another $5.2 million in Oregon and $17.9 million in California. By the time that money runs through restaurants, seafood markets, and gear stores, the overall losses from closing the season will be more like $150 million, said Glen Spain of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, which represents California salmon fishermen. That money depends on healthy salmon in the Klamath River. Cutting through the Cascade and Siskiyou mountains in southern Oregon and Northern California, the Klamath was traditionally the third-biggest producer of salmon on the West Coast, after the Columbia and Sacramento, which this year expect healthier returns than the Klamath. During the gold rush of the 1850s, the Klamath suffered the ravages of hydraulic mining. In 1917, the first of a series of hydroelectric dams blocked hundreds of miles of spawning habitat. Political and legal wrangling continue over how much water goes to irrigating 180,000 acres of potatoes, hay, mint, grain and cattle pasture in the Klamath Reclamation Project and how much goes down the river for salmon. In 2001 those farmers paid the price. Drought forced the federal government to cut back irrigation so there would be enough water for coho salmon, a threatened species that shares the Klamath with chinook. An Oregon State University study put crop losses between $27 million and $46 million. That’s comparable to the $36.3 million in 2005 commercial salmon landings in Oregon and California that fishermen stand to lose this year. The Bush administration threw its support behind farmers, and in 2002 Interior Secretary Gale Norton and Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman made a special trip to turn the valves that restored full irrigation. That September, low warm water led to the deaths of some 70,000 adult chinook returning to the Klamath to spawn, according to the California Department of Fish and Game. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! NEWPORT, Ore. – Just two years ago, Don Snow boated a chinook salmon that dressed out at 48 pounds, 6 ounces – the biggest he’s ever caught in the lower 48 states. Commercial fishermen were feeling good about salmon in 2004. As a result of aggressive marketing, prices for chinook caught by trolling the Pacific were up after years of being driven down by more plentiful farmed fish. Those good times have gone bust this year. The third straight season of poor chinook returns to Northern California’s Klamath River to spawn have federal fisheries managers considering closing 700 miles of coastline to salmon fishing for this year’s May through October season, despite plentiful stocks elsewhere. They have already closed this year’s spring season, and forecasts for next year are not good. Because there is no way to harvest plentiful stocks from other watersheds without killing Klamath fish, fans of wild salmon expect to have a tough time getting troll-caught chinook, and salmon fishermen like Snow will be scrambling to keep their boats. last_img read more