The Pacific Fishery Management Council has adopted for public review three alternatives for the 2018 salmon seasons off the West Coast of the United States. The Council will select a final alternative at its next meeting in Portland, Oregon April 6-11. Detailed information about season starting dates, areas open, and catch limits for all three alternatives are available on the Council’s website at www.pcouncil.org.
Fisheries north of Cape Falcon (in northern Oregon) are limited by the need to reduce catch of lower Columbia natural tule Chinook and coho stocks of concern. Additionally, three stocks of coho (Queets River, Strait of Juan de Fuca, and Snohomish) currently meet the criteria for overfished status, which is also a concern when structuring 2018 fisheries. The Council also provided guidance to structure ocean fisheries so that the ocean escapement of Columbia River upriver bright fall Chinook is at least 200,000 fish, which will allow more access to that healthy stock in Columbia River treaty Indian and non-Indian fisheries.
Fisheries south of Cape Falcon are limited by the need to reduce catch of Oregon Coast natural coho, Klamath River fall Chinook, Sacramento River fall Chinook, and Rouge/Klamath coho. Klamath River fall Chinook and Sacramento River fall Chinook contribute significantly to ocean harvest, but both met the criteria for overfished status as a result of poor returns over the past three years. However, the forecast for Klamath River fall Chinook is substantially improved over last year, and both stocks are projected to meet their spawning escapement objectives under this year’s management alternatives.
“Although some abundance forecasts are improved over last year, the 2018 salmon runs still present a challenge for ocean fishermen and managers throughout the west coast,” said Executive Director Chuck Tracy. “In the north, low returns of some Puget Sound and Washington coastal coho runs and lower Columbia River natural tule fall Chinook will constrain fisheries. In the south, the conservation needs of Sacramento River fall Chinook and Rogue/Klamath coho will constrain fisheries.”
“Once again, the Council adopted a range of management alternatives for public review designed to conserve and rebuild a broad range of Chinook and coho stocks of concern. Commercial and recreational fisheries will face restrictions in areas along the entire west coast in response to the Council’s conservation efforts,” said Council Chair Phil Anderson.
Ocean sport fishing is restricted below Horse Mountain, California compared to recent years, due to the stock status of Sacramento River fall Chinook. Alternatives for 2018 fisheries were structured to allow for spawning escapement in excess of what is required under the Salmon Fishery Management Plan in an effort to begin the rebuilding process for both Klamath River fall Chinook and Sacramento River fall Chinook.
A public hearing to receive input on the alternatives is scheduled for Tuesday, March 27 in Salinas. The Council will consult with scientists, hear public comment, revise preliminary decisions, and choose a final alternative at its meeting next month in Oregon.
The Council will forward its final season recommendations to National Marine Fisheries Service for its approval and implementation by May 1.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council is one of eight regional fishery management councils established by the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 for the purpose of managing fisheries up to 200 miles offshore of the United States of America coastline. The Pacific Council recommends management measures for fisheries off the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington.