With salmon fishing season starting up, the Pacific Fishery Management Council announced 2021 West Coast season dates and guidelines Friday.
The Council took into account reports from commercial, recreational, and tribal representatives that detailed challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as ways the Council could “provide meaningful fishing opportunities and economic support for coastal communities,” a Council statement said.
“There will be some restrictive commercial and recreational seasons this year along much of the coast,” said Council chair Marc Gorelnik. “Forecasts for some Chinook and coho stocks are quite low, which made our job more challenging this year.”
One of the concerns shared by the Council was the expected low abundance of fall Chinook in the Klamath River, resulting in the area from the Oregon/California border to the southern KMZ boundary being closed to conserve Klamath River Chinook. Meanwhile, the Sacramento River expects to see an abundance of Chinook.
The recreational Chinook season for fisheries near San Francisco, from Point Arena to Pigeon Point, will take place from late June through October. The same dates apply for recreational fisheries near Fort Bragg. Recreational fisheries in the Monterey area, from Pigeon Point to the Mexico border, are open from now through September.
Meanwhile, the Chinook season for commercial fisheries near San Francisco, from Point Arena to Pigeon Point, will take place intermittently from June 16-30, July 17-22, August 1-17 and the entire month of September. Chinook seasons for commercial fisheries in the Fort Bragg area (southern KMZ boundary to Point Arena) will be open August 1-17 and all of September.
The Council’s review process included input from federal, state, and tribal fishery scientists and fishing industry members; public testimony; and three public hearings held by webinar.
“This has been another challenging year for the Council, its advisors, fishery stakeholders, and the public as we strive to balance fishing opportunities with conservation needs for Chinook and coho stocks,” said Council executive director Chuck Tracy.
The Council’s recommendations will be forwarded to the National Marine Fisheries Service for approval by May 16, 2021.