With low returns of chinook and coho salmon
expected back to numerous rivers in Washington, state and tribal co-managers
Tuesday agreed on a fishing season that “meets conservation goals for wild fish
while providing fishing opportunities on healthy salmon runs,” said the Washington
Department of Fish and Wildlife.
In Oregon, “ocean salmon anglers can look
forward to more opportunity this year based on recommendations made yesterday
for federal waters (outside three miles) during a Pacific Fishery Management
Council meeting in Portland,” said the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
“While this won’t be a banner year for ocean
salmon fishing, overall it’s an improvement from 2017. This is particularly
true for communities on the southern Oregon coast, which were hit hard by
2017’s salmon closures,” said Chris Kern, ODFW Deputy Fish Division
Low returns of wild salmon runs prompted state
and tribal fishery managers to limit fishing opportunities in many areas to
protect those stocks.
For example, “recreational anglers will have
less opportunity to fish for chinook salmon in both the Columbia River and
Washington's ocean waters compared to recent years. Tribal fisheries also will
be restricted in certain areas to protect weak stocks,” said the WDFW in a
A variety of unfavorable environmental
conditions, including severe flooding in rivers and warm ocean water, have
reduced the number of salmon returning to Washington's rivers in recent years,
said Ron Warren, head of WDFW's fish program.
In addition, the loss of quality rearing and
spawning habitat continues to take a toll on salmon populations throughout the
region, where some stocks are listed for protection under the federal
Endangered Species Act, he said.
"It's critical that we ensure fisheries
are consistent with ongoing efforts to protect and rebuild wild salmon
stocks," Warren said. "Unfortunately, the loss of salmon habitat
continues to outpace these recovery efforts. We need to reverse this trend. If
we don't, salmon runs will continue to decline and it will be increasingly
difficult to develop meaningful fisheries."
The 2018-19 salmon fisheries, developed by
WDFW and treaty tribal co-managers, were finalized during the Pacific Fishery
Management Council's meeting in Portland.
Information on recreational salmon fisheries
in Washington's ocean waters and the Columbia River is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/. The webpage includes information on Puget Sound sport fisheries,
as well as an overview of chinook and coho fishing opportunities in the Sound's
A bright spot in this year's salmon season
planning process was a renewed commitment by Indian and non-Indian fishermen to
work together for the future of salmon and salmon fishing, said Lorraine
Loomis, chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.
"No fisherman wants to catch the last
salmon. We know that the ongoing loss of habitat, a population explosion of
hungry seals and sea lions and the needs of endangered southern resident killer
whales are the real challenges facing us today. We must work together if we are
going to restore salmon to sustainable levels," she said.
In meeting conservation objectives for wild
salmon, the co-managers are limiting fisheries in areas where southern resident
killer whales are known to feed. The adjustments will aid in minimizing boat
presence and noise, and decrease competition for chinook and other salmon in
areas critical to the declining whales, said WDFW.
In Oregon, sport salmon fishing in the ocean
off the Columbia River will open June 23 and is expected to run through Labor
Day, Sept. 3, unless salmon quotas are reached earlier.
The area from Cape Falcon south to Humbug Mt
opened for chinook on March 15 and will remain open until Oct. 31.
The forecast for coho is down this year for
both the Oregon coast and Columbia River, largely due to poor ocean conditions,
said ODFW in a press release.
Sport fishing for hatchery coho will be open
from Cape Falcon south to Humbug Mt. from June 30-Sept. 3 or until the quota of
35,000 fish is met. A small season for
wild and hatchery coho in this area is also scheduled for Sept. 7-8 and each
Friday and Saturday after until Sept. 29 or the quota of 3,500 coho is met, “which
may happen quickly,” said ODFW.
Unlike the full closure to salmon fishing last
year, the area south of Humbug Mt to the OR/CA border will be open to sport fishing
for chinook from May 19-Aug. 29. The
strong forecast for Rogue River fall chinook is a bright spot for the coast
Commercial troll fishing for chinook will be
open intermittently along the whole Oregon coast from May through the summer.
In 2017, all commercial salmon trolling was closed south of Florence.
“I want to thank the many advisors, tribal
members, agency staff, and members of the general public, who all worked hard
to ensure that conservation goals for salmon stocks are met while providing
fishing opportunities for communities up and down the west coast,” said ODFW’s Kern.
The PFMC recommendations will be forwarded to
NOAA Fisheries for approval and implementation.
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will be asked to adopt matching
rules for state waters (inside 3 mi) at their April 20 meeting in Astoria.