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FEATURE

Chinook Salmon at 'disastrous' all-time low





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by Janet Ritz
with THE ENVIRONMENTALIST staff
Cross-posted on Chicago Sun-Times

The Pacific Fishery Management Council has warned that entire the West Coast salmon season may have to be halted due to the lack of available fall Pacific chinook salmon.

“This is very bad news for West Coast salmon fisheries,” said Pacific Council Chairman Don Hansen. “The word ‘disaster’ comes immediately to mind, and I mean a disaster much worse than the Klamath fishery disaster of 2006.”
Sacramento River salmon are primarily caught off California and Oregon, but are also found off Washington and as far north as British Columbia. They are typically one of the healthiest and most abundant stocks on the west coast, and are the dominant contributor to both commercial and recreational fisheries off California and most of Oregon. ~snip~

The forecast of very low abundance is based on the return of “jack” salmon in the fall of 2007. Jack salmon are young male fish that return to the rivers as two year olds, unlike adult fish which return at age three or older. Jack salmon are currently the best statistical indicator of returning adult population the following year. Only about 2,000 Sacramento River fall Chinook jacks returned in 2007, by far a new record low count. This compares to a long‐term average of about 40,000 and the previous record low of about 10,000, which occurred in 2006.
“The biological situation for Sacramento River fall Chinook salmon is unprecedented in our experience,” said Pacific Council Executive Director Dr. Donald McIsaac. “We are looking at back-to-back record low brood year production..."

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