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Salmon Economics

As word spreads of the abundance of Chinook salmon being caught off the coast of California, anglers are eager to make their way to the sea in hopes that they are as fortunate. The extended fishing season and forecast of an unprecedented salmon rebound have only added to the excitement, which is predicted to bring greater profits to coastal communities. Rumors have been floating around that anglers are limiting out and are back at the docks by 9 am and salmon fever is now full-bore. This is a great sign for the communities that have fallen on hard times due to low salmon abundances and the restrictions placed on sport fishing over the last few years.


The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) pre-season report predicted that most areas along the West Coast around recreational fishing communities would see an increase in the amount of tourist traffic and money this year compared to recent years. In 2011, folks along the West Coast made an estimated total of 211,200 angler trips and that number is projected to increase by 123,300 trips in 2012. Furthermore, the additional activity is estimated to be valued at almost $10 million more than the 2011 estimate of $17 million. In a down economy, this is great news for the California charter fishing industry, which took a hit after the 2007 season and the collapse of the Sacramento River Fall Chinook (SRFC) salmon fishery. However, the fishing frenzy caused by the increase in abundance could have negative effects on the recovery of the salmon. PFMC stated in the Review of 2011 Ocean Salmon Fisheries that SRFC are currently overfished based on the fact that the three-year geometric mean for escapement is below 91,500 fish. In times when abundance is still recovering and there is a lot of excitement around the fishing community it is important that we remain cautious about the future of Chinook salmon.


This year, the salmon fishing season is long and there will likely be a lot of fish captured during the next few months. Depending on your location the recreational fishing season started as early as April 7 and is expected to go through early November, while the commercial fishing season will begin May 1 and end September 30. Catch totals for recreational and commercial fishing are projected to be around 215,000 and 555,000, respectively, along the West Coast with almost half of the catch occurring south of Horse Mountain (Fort Bragg). Due to the overestimate of salmon abundance in recent years the catch of SRFC has actually been lower than predicted (23% lower in 2011) in years past, but if the fish continue to bite then there will be a lot of salmon harvested.

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Small-scale trawl
When most of us think of a trawl fishery what comes to linksmind are the large, sea-going vessels dragging huge nets 200 ft. wide along the sea floor, but in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam the fishery operates on a much smaller scale. The most common method of fishing in the Mekong Delta is the trawl, and it has been reported that 70% of the fishing boats in Vietnam are small-scale trawlers in the Delta (Sinh and Long 2011). The Vietnamese trawlers are a more simplified version of the mid-water trawlers used for monitoring in the San Francisco Bay-Delta. The nets have a large, open front end that reduces down to the back of the net, or the 'cod end', where the catch is collected as the net is hand-pulled into the boat... Read more >

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IN THE NEWS: Recent stories you might have missed...
Salmon season on Sacramento, Feather rivers set for July start

Chico ER

Salmon fishing season dates were set Thursday for what is expected to be a banner year for anglers. The state Fish and Game Commission adopted ocean and inland salmon fishing regulations, with a season that opens July 16 on the Sacramento and Feather rivers. Longer seasons and increased fishing opportunities are the hallmarks of what is expected to be a great season for ocean and river anglers... Read more > 

State Opposes Feds on Clearing Levee Trees
California Report

California is getting ready for war with the U.S. Army. A legal war, anyway, between California water and wildlife agencies and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The battleground? 1,600 of California levees that protect the Delta and Central Valley from flooding. The Corps wants the state to cut down most of the trees on those levees for safety's sake. But state officials want the trees to stay... Read more > 

Fisheries scientists redefine the salmon debate by trumpeting more 'spill'

Idaho Statesman

Increasing the amount of water spilled over eight Snake and Columbia river dams to keep juvenile fish away from hydroelectric turbines might be enough to recover most of Idaho's endangered salmon populations without breaching dams, new studies suggest. A state, tribal and federal science team that has been working since 1996 is urging federal fish and wildlife officials and dam managers to change their management to test the theory, which is based on a dramatic increase in data collected over the past decade... Read more > 

Judge Redden on Saving Salmon: Tear Down Those Dams

Earth Fix   

In his first interview since stepping down from the Northwest's landmark legal case involving salmon and hydropower, U.S. District Judge James Redden says the four dams on the Lower Snake River should come down. And he makes clear his support for spilling more water to help juvenile fish. Redden is no longer in a position to exercise legal authority over how federal agencies operate the Columbia-Snake system's hydroelectric dams and enforce environmental policy to ensure the survival of the steelhead and salmon... Read more > 

ODFW to begin hazing cormorants on Oregon coast

KCBY News  

With hundreds of thousands of young salmon now making their way toward the ocean, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is ramping up efforts to make sure they get there and aren't picked off by hungry birds along the way. For the next month and a half, volunteers assisting ODFW staff will haze cormorants to keep them from feasting on salmon smolts as the young fish run the gauntlet through five coastal estuaries on their way to the Pacific Ocean... Read more > 

Diverse catches beneficial to fishery ecosystems

Fish Information & Services 

Fishing for a 'balanced harvest' can achieve productive fisheries as well as environmental conservation, an international scientific team reports in the journal Science. In contrast, increasing fishing selectivity to catch a small group of species and sizes neither maximises production nor minimises the ecological effects of fishing, according to the paper titled, 'Reconsidering the Consequences of Selective Fisheries'.... Read more >