California’s 2019 ocean salmon fishing season should be slightly better than last year’s, according to information presented at last week’s annual Salmon Information Meeting held in Santa Rosa by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The ocean abundance projections for Sacramento River fall chinook, a main salmon stock harvested in California waters, is estimated at 379,600 adult salmon, an increase over 2018 forecasts. This may result in increased fishing opportunity in some central coastal areas. The Klamath River fall chinook abundance forecast of 274,200 adult salmon is lower than 2018 forecast, but still an improvement over low forecast numbers seen in recent years.

“We are cautiously optimistic that the increase in ocean abundance of SRFC will translate into more fishing opportunity this year,” said CDFW Environmental Scientist Kandice Morgenstern.

Recreational anglers and commercial salmon trollers at the meeting provided comments and voiced concerns to a panel of fishery managers, scientists and industry representatives. Stakeholder input will be taken into consideration when developing three season alternatives during the March 6-12 Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Vancouver, Wash. Final ocean salmon seasons will be adopted during the April 9-16 PFMC meeting in Rohnert Park, Calif.

The PFMC may take a conservative approach when crafting 2019 ocean salmon seasons since both SRFC and KRFC stocks are considered to be overfished under the terms of the federal Salmon Fishery Management Plan due to three years of low spawning escapement. Additionally, persistent concerns over protected Sacramento River winter chinook and California Coastal chinook could limit fishing opportunity south of Point Arena and north of Point Sur, respectively.

For more information on the salmon season setting process or general ocean salmon fishing information, visit the Ocean Salmon Project website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/regulations/salmon, or call the ocean salmon hotline at 707-576-3429.

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