Oregon Chinook Closures 2008

Oregon's Ocean Chinook Fishery Restricted.

If you're gearing up to fish for king salmon in the ocean off Oregon, you might have to change your plans.

The fishery is closed from three miles to 200 miles offshore. The ban is in effect from about 30 miles south of the mouth of the Columbia, at Cape Falcon, all the way to Mexico.

Anglers can still fish for coho in that area, although the quota is low and the season is expected to be short.

These regulations, approved by the Pacific Fishery Management Council in April, do not cover Oregon's coastal rivers or bays. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will set those regulations in June.

NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, the agency in charge of fishery management in federal waters, is expected to confirm the Council's decision.

The closure follows a dramatic decline in the number of Sacramento River fall chinook salmon expected to spawn this year.

"This is a disaster for West Coast salmon fisheries, under any standard," said Don Hansen, chairman of the fishery council. "There will be a huge impact on the people who fish for a living, those who eat wild-caught king salmon, those who enjoy recreational fishing and the businesses and coastal communities dependent on these fisheries."

The minimum conservation goal for Sacramento fall chinook is 122,000 to 180,000 spawning adult salmon. This is the number of salmon needed to return to the river to maintain the health of the run. As recently as 2002, 775,000 adults returned to spawn. This year, even with all ocean salmon fishing closures, the return of fall-run chinook to the Sacramento is projected to be only 54,000, according to the fishery council.

Council Executive Director Don McIsaac said the reason for the sudden decline is a mystery.

"The only thing that can be done in the short term is to cut back the commercial and recreational fishing seasons to protect the remaining fish," said McIsaac. "The longer-term solution will involve a wide variety of people, agencies and organizations. But for now, unfortunately, those involved in the salmon fisheries are paying the price."

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission meets June 6 in Salem to set regulations for salmon in coastal rivers and inshore waters.

Check the state Web site at www.dfw.state.or.us/ for more information.

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