On 1 March, the California Department of Fish & Game (CDFG) released data on the 2010 salmon spawning escapement for the Central Valley (Sacramento, San Joaquin River, and tributaries) and Klamath Basin, along with its projections for adult salmon ocean abundance for 2011.
The numbers presented at the Santa Rosa meeting were up substantially from the past three years, indicating the likelihood for a substantial increase in fishing opportunity in 2011.
This is good news not only for California’s commercial trollers, recreational anglers and, in the case of the Klamath, native Indian fishermen, but also for Oregon and Washington’s ocean salmon fishery, where Klamath and Central Valley chinook contribute substantially to those states’ ocean catch.
CDFG is currently projecting a 729,000 adult fall-run for Central Valley chinook for 2011, up significantly from the 245,000 fish projection of 2010, when only a token salmon fishery was allowed. The two years before that, the ocean had been closed to California’s (and most of Oregon’s) salmon fishermen due to the collapse of Central Valley stocks.
The 2011 returning class of salmon will be the first year-class to have benefited from the salmon protections enacted in the Bay-Delta Estuary aimed at reducing mortality on baby Central Valley salmon migrating downstream through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, San Francisco Bay and out the Golden Gate to the Pacific.
Those protections came about following a lawsuit brought by PCFFA and other fishing and conservation groups (PCFFA, et al. v. Gutierrez) that resulted in a Biological Opinion (Bi-Op) and development of a recovery plan for the Endangered Species Act (ESA) -listed salmon runs including the Sacramento winter and spring-run chinook.
Fall-run chinook runs that support the salmon fishery benefited as well from these ESA-ordered protections; fall-run numbers had been decimated from over-pumping by the State (SWP) and Federal (CVP) projects in the Delta, diverting freshwater flow to the westside San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.
Klamath River salmon returns are also projected to be up, for an estimated abundance of 370,000 adult fish, up from 331,500 in 2010.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council is in the process of developing management options for the 2011 salmon season.
For more information, see www.pcouncil.org/council-operations/council-meetings/future-meetings/#2011
source: Fishlink Sublegals