Salmon Information Meeting to outline any possibility of a 2024 salmon season

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LIFE’S BETTER WITH SALMON— Here’s a 21 pounder aboard the New Captain Pete prior to the closure.
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BY DAVE HURLEY

 SANTA ROSA – Recreational and commercial fishermen are holding their breath for this Friday’s California Department of Wildlife’s annual Salmon Information Meeting to be held by webinar only. Although the escapement of fall-run salmon in the Sacramento River Basin exceeded the minimum of 122,000 returning hatchery and natural spawners, 133,638 returners fell short of the projected spawning escapement of 164,964 salmon. The 2023 salmon closure below Cape Falcon in Oregon throughout California was devastating to commercial salmon fishermen along with coastal communities due to the loss of economic activity by recreational anglers. According to the Golden State Salmon Association, Central Valley salmon have provided over $2 billion in economic activity to communities in California and Oregon along with 23,000 jobs in California and half that again in Oregon. The salmon closure also had the unintended consequence of increased pressure on other gamefish species resulting in the daily bag limit for California halibut reduced to two-fish per day and perhaps increased pressure on rockfish leading to an early closure on nearshore fishing.

The stakes are high as the future of California’s commercial salmon fishery hangs in the balance as many long-time anglers will not be able to survive another year of no fishing. Although the final decision regarding the possibility for an upcoming season will not be determined at this meeting, the meeting is the first glimpse into the two-month long process to develop recreational and commercial salmon fishing regulations. During the meeting, state and federal fishery scientists will present information on topics such as last year’s spawning escapement, estimates of forecasted ocean abundance, and management goals for 2024 sport and commercial ocean salmon seasons. Following the salmon information meeting, a range of ocean fishing season alternatives will be presented at the Pacific Fisheries Management Council’s meeting on March 6 to 11 in Fresno before the final season recommendations will be adopted at the council’s meeting from April 6 to 11 in Seattle.

As of press time, the instructions for attending the webinar along with informational materials have not been posted, but they are scheduled to be available at the CDFW’s Ocean Salmon web page.

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