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West Coast Salmon Outlook Brightens

by Samantha Young, Associated Press
Seattle Times, March 11, 2010

SACRAMENTO -- California's chinook-salmon fishery is likely to be opened this year after two straight closed fishing seasons -- but with restrictions, according to recommendations released Thursday by a federal panel.

Fishermen in Oregon and Washington are poised to have an even better season because of abundant salmon.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council approved three options outlining where West Coast fishermen might be allowed to cast their lines and nets beginning this spring. A final decision is expected next month, and it's unlikely California's salmon fishery will be closed altogether, said council Chairman David Ortmann.

If fishing is allowed off California, it would be limited for both commercial and recreational boats. Restrictions on when and where fishermen could travel are proposed because of concern about the decline in chinook over the past three years.

Impacts from the troubled Sacramento River system will be felt along the California coast to Central Oregon.

"The Sacramento directly affects fishing off Central Oregon's coast, but has little impact on Washington's," said Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Guy Norman. "The bulk of those fish just don't migrate that far north."

And Washington salmon fishermen are on tap to have a better-than-normal year because forecasts call for record chinook runs along the Columbia River system and average coho runs.

Forecasts call for the Columbia to see 559,000 spring chinook, the largest return since 1938. The three options federal managers are considering for recreational chinook fishing all call for quotas at least double those of last year.

Coho fishing quotas will be half to one-third what they were last year, but Washington coho runs then, topping 1.3 million fish, were the best in a decade.

The council will make a final decision April 14 in Portland.

Samantha Young, Associated Press
Reporter Craig Welch contributed to this report.
West Coast Salmon Outlook Brightens
Seattle Times, March 11, 2010

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