Two state legislators request Governor to declare a statewide Salmon Fishery Disaster

By on May 10, 2017

Pointing to California’s five-year drought, poor ocean conditions and federal water management policies as the causes for the high mortality and exceptionally low survival of juvenile salmon, California’s Senator Mike McGuire (D-District 2-Eureka) and Assemblymember Jim Wood (D- 2nd District-Humboldt) sent a letter to Governor Jerry Brown late last week requesting he declare a statewide Salmon Fishery Disaster. Due to an unprecedented collapse of Klamath River salmon stocks, no commercial or recreational fishing will be allowed in Klamath Management Zone in 2017 and the Klamath and Trinity River recreational salmon fisheries will be closed.

The proposed closures and minimal open seasons are projected to have significant negative impacts on thousands of California residents and their livelihoods.

“The California salmon fishery is one of our state’s oldest and … one of the most iconic in America. Golden State salmon fishermen, many of whom also experienced unprecedented hardship during the crab season disaster in 2015-16, are now faced with the reality that the 2017 salmon season is projected to be one of the worst in state history due to deplorable environmental conditions,” Senator McGuire said. “We’re asking the Governor to declare a salmon season disaster and fishery failure – thousands of working families are in crisis and desperately need our help.”

The predicted adult salmon returns to the Klamath River are anticipated to be the lowest in history.  Current estimates are only 54,000 Klamath salmon are in the ocean down from 1.6 million in 2012. The salmon failure is expected to have devastating impacts on California’s North Coast tribes who depend on the salmon to meet tribal subsistence needs. Tribal allocations are at an all-time low of just over 800 salmon, or less than one fish per ten tribal members.

Salmon fishery represents California’s oldest fishery. It supports both commercial and recreational fishing as well as tribal fisheries. It supports the state’s trade and tourism industries; a decade ago salmon fishing supported 23,000 jobs and $1.4 billion in economic activity. But, landings by commercial fleet dropped from 502,110 salmon in 2004 to 55,051 in 2016, an 89% decrease. The 2017 season is expected to be worse than last year.

“Drought, disease, and stream diversions have decimated the north coast salmon population,” said Assemblymember Jim Wood. “The hard-working men and women who rely on these fish to support their families have been put in a terrible situation through no fault of their own. They deserve our support.”