The Pacific Fishery Management Council 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. North of Cape Falcon, a large increase in hatchery coho over last year will provide a welcome increase in both recreational and commercial fishing opportunities.
Season recommendations will be forwarded to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for approval.
“Although some salmon stocks are returning in stronger numbers than last year, balancing fishing opportunities with conservation is always a challenge for the Council, its advisers, fishery stakeholders, and the public,” said Council Executive Director Chuck Tracy. “The seasons this year continue to protect stocks of concern, including Puget Sound Chinook, Washington natural coho, and Sacramento River fall Chinook.”
In addition to recommending salmon regulations for 2019, the Council developed a plan to work collaboratively with NMFS on Southern Resident killer whales, which are listed under the Endangered Species Act.
“This year’s package was adopted after careful consideration and analysis in order to meet our conservation objectives, consider impacts on the prey base important to Southern Resident killer whales, and consider in-river and Puget Sound fisheries,” said Council Chair Phil Anderson. “The Council also established a workgroup that will be working closely with National Marine Fisheries Service to assess on a longer term basis the ocean salmon fisheries effect to the prey base of Southern Resident killer whales,” Anderson said.
Washington and Northern Oregon (North of Cape Falcon)
Fisheries north of Cape Falcon (which is just north of Manzanita, Oregon) depend largely on Columbia River Chinook and coho stocks. Overall, Columbia River fall Chinook forecasts are generally considered low to moderate compared to the recent 10-year average. Hatchery coho stocks originating from the Columbia River are expected to return in high numbers, but some natural stocks originating from the Washington coast and Puget Sound are expected to return at low to moderate levels in 2019.
The overall non-Indian total allowable catch north of Cape Falcon is 52,500 Chinook (compared to 55,000 last year) and 190,000 marked hatchery coho (compared to 47,600 last year). Fisheries are designed to provide harvest opportunity on healthy Chinook and coho returns primarily destined for the Columbia River, while avoiding Washington natural Chinook and coho.
Non-Indian ocean commercial fisheries north of Cape Falcon include traditional Chinook seasons in the spring (May-June) and summer season (July through September). Non-Indian ocean commercial fisheries in this area will have access to a total of 26,250 Chinook (compared to 27,500 Chinook last year), and a marked coho quota of 30,400 (compared to 5,600 coho last year).
Tribal ocean fisheries north of Cape Falcon are similar in structure to past years, with quotas that include 35,000 Chinook and 55,000 coho (compared to 40,000 Chinook and 12,500 coho last year).
The recreational fishery north of Cape Falcon opens to all salmon on June 22 in all areas, and ends September 30 or when Chinook or coho quotas are reached. In addition, a small area of the La Push subarea will be open October 1-13 with Chinook and coho quotas. Recreational fisheries north of Cape Falcon will have access to a total of 26,250 Chinook (compared to 27,500 Chinook last year), and a marked coho quota of 159,600 (compared to 42,000 coho last year).
California and Oregon South of Cape Falcon, Oregon
South of Cape Falcon, fisheries target Sacramento and Klamath fall Chinook and hatchery coho from Oregon and the Columbia River. California coastal Chinook and Oregon coast natural coho stocks are the primary constraints to fisheries in this area. Most areas are seeing improved opportunity over last year.
The commercial fishery consists of modest Chinook fishing opportunity in both states. Most areas south of Cape Falcon are seeing improved opportunity over the last two years, and include seasons in the Klamath Management Zone in southern Oregon and northern California.
Commercial fisheries from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt. will be open on April 20-30, May 6-30, then re-open June 1 and continue through August 29. This area will also be open continuously in September and October with weekly landing limits in place.
Fisheries from Humbug Mtn., Oregon to the Oregon/California border will be open in late April and for much of May. Monthly quotas for June through August will be in place for the both the Oregon and California portions of the Klamath Management Zone. All quotas feature landing and possession limits, and the California portion of this area will be open five days a week, similar to 2018.
Between Horse Mountain and Point Arena (Fort Bragg), the area will be open June 4-30, July 11-31, and August 1-28. From Point Arena to Pigeon Point (San Francisco), the area will be open May 16-31, June 4-30, July 11-31, August 1-28, and September 1-30. From Pigeon Point to the Mexico border (Monterrey), the area will be open all of May, June 4-30, and July 11-31. There will also be a season from Point Reyes to Point San Pedro, a subset of the San Francisco area, on October 1-4, 7-11, and 14-15.
Recreational opportunity is generally improved over last year. Recreational fisheries in Oregon provide opportunities for both Chinook and coho, including both mark-selective and non-mark-selective coho fisheries. California recreational fisheries provide moderate opportunity for Chinook.
Recreational fisheries from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mtn. will allow Chinook retention from now through October. Coho fisheries consist of a mark-selective quota fishery of 90,000 in mid-summer (compared to 35,000 last year) and a non-mark-selective quota fishery of 9,000 in September (compared to 3,500 last year).
Fisheries from Humbug Mtn., Oregon to Horse Mtn., California will be open from May 25 through September 2. The Oregon area also includes a mark-selective coho fishery opportunity in mid-summer.
Fisheries from Horse Mtn. to Pigeon Point (Fort Bragg and San Francisco areas) will be open from April 13 through 30, then re-open May 18 and continue through October. The area from Pigeon Point to the U.S./Mexico border (Monterey area) is open now through August 28.
For details on all seasons, please see the season descriptions on the Council website.