The Pacific Fishery Management Council has adopted three alternatives for 2022 ocean salmon fisheries off Washington, Oregon and California for public review. The council was scheduled to make a final decision on salmon seasons at its April 6-13 meeting. Detailed information about season starting dates, areas open and catch limits for the three alternatives are available on the council’s website at www.pcouncil.org.
Although forecasts for many Chinook and coho stocks have improved over last year, the council has said that it’s constrained by requirements to conserve Fraser River (Canada) coho, lower Columbia River natural tule Chinook and Klamath River fall Chinook.
“Meeting our conservation and management objectives continues to be the highest priority for the council,” Chair Marc Gorelnik said. “Balancing those objectives while providing meaningful commercial and recreational seasons remains a challenge in 2022.”
“The prey needs of Southern Resident killer whales is an important piece of the council’s salmon fishery deliberations,” said Executive Director Merrick Burden, “as is the need to rebuild salmon stocks that have become overfished.”
For the non-Indian ocean commercial fishery North of Cape Falcon, the season alternatives reflect traditional seasons between May and September. Chinook quotas for all areas and times range from 26,500 to 32,500, compared to 30,750 in 2021. Coho quotas range from 25,600 to 33,600, compared to 5,000 in 2021.
Commercial season alternatives south of Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain are open either beginning in late March or May through October, with closed periods in most months. A limited incidental hatchery coho season is also being considered.
The commercial alternatives in the Oregon Klamath Management Zone provide a range of Chinook-only season alternatives opening from late March through May, and include quotas in June, July and August. All alternatives have the California Klamath Management Zone closed for the season.
Commercial seasons south of the California zone vary considerably between the alternatives and management areas (Fort Bragg, San Francisco and Monterey), but in general provide significantly reduced levels of opportunity compared to last year.
The council said it has worked collaboratively with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to understand the effects of council-area fisheries on southern resident killer whales, which are listed as endangered. Based in part on information provided by the council’s ad-hoc Southern Resident Killer Whale Workgroup, the council amended the Pacific Salmon Fishery Management Plan to address the needs of the whales while providing salmon harvest opportunities. Salmon abundance is well above the threshold of 966,000 Chinook that would require additional fishery restrictions.
The council scheduled one public hearing for each coastal state to hear comments on the alternatives. The hearings, which occurred online were held March 22 (Washington and California) and March 23 (Oregon). The public was also able to comment on the alternatives during the April council meeting.
Materials and instructions for joining online council meetings and hearings are posted online, at www.pcouncil.org.
The council plans to consult with scientists, hear public comment, revise preliminary decisions, and choose a final alternative at its April public meeting, then forward its final season recommendations to NMFS for its approval and implementation by May 16.
For more information about season starting dates, open areas, catch limits, and more, go to the Pacific Fishery Management Council website at www.pcouncil.org