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Salmon fishing restrictions
said unpalatable to fans

By Brigid Gaffikin, Bay City News Service

March 25, 2006

Salmon season in the Bay Area this year may offer slim pickings for fans of the popular fish when the Pacific Fishery Management Council decides in early April which level of restrictions on salmon fishing in California and Oregon to impose for 2006 - and opponents are already up in arms.

Diminished numbers of naturally spawning Klamath River Chinook salmon has prompted the council to consider three options for 2006 ocean salmon fisheries.

The three plans provide for various combinations of restrictions, including limits on the time and geographic area of the season and the size of catch permitted, according to council documents.

The April 2-7 meetings will involve public comment followed by a preliminary decision, and then consultations with scientists, more public comment and a revision of preliminary options, according to the council.

The final decision will be made late in the week either Thursday or Friday.

Critics of the plans to restrict salmon fishing include commercial, recreational and Karuk Nation fishers, according to Small Boat Commercial Salmon Fishing Association president Mike Hudson.

Canceling the salmon season could result in losses as high as $150 million, according to SBCSFA.

Consumer could face higher salmon prices too.

"We're probably talking in the neighborhood of $15 to $20 a pound," depending on the availability of Alaskan fish, said Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations.

Grader said that restricting fishing won't solve the real problem, the prevalence of the naturally occurring C. Shasta and two other viruses that in large quantities become deadly and infect young salmon once they reach the main stem of the Klamath River.

"It doesn't matter whether we're fishing or not, the fish are dying," he said.

"Our request is that all these problems the government has known about for years would be addressed," Hudson said. Hudson also argued that over-fishing is not the problem and urged the government to help bring "fresh, clean water," essential to the survival of salmon to the river.

"We would like to see the whole river system fixed in a way that is workable for us and the farmers and everybody, the whole neighborhood," he said.

SBCSFA and other opponents of the fishing ban are calling for Portland based utility PacifiCorp to take down "the antiquated complex of dams" it owns along the lower Klamath River. The four damns prevent fish from making their way along the river, he explained.

The Federal Regulatory Commission is in the process of considering whether to re-license the damns, a process that takes place once every 50 years, Hudson said.

In a statement Grader said "we cannot continue to give power companies free reign over our rivers. It is costing fishing families and their livelihoods and destroying salmon dependent Tribal cultures. It's time we fought back and held PacifiCorp accountable for the damage they have caused."

Hudson also stressed the importance of tracking river fish around hotspots in rivers.

The SBCSFA and other opponents to restrictions on salmon season will meet and rally in Santa Rosa on Tuesday, when the PFMC will meet to discuss which fishing restriction options to present at its April meetings.

The rally will include representatives of sport fishing organizations, a California commercial fishing fleet, recreational fishers' groups and a Karuk Nation fisherman.

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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