GGSA Announcement: Welcome 2012 Salmon Season!

For Immediate Release: March 7, 2012
Contact: Victor Gonella, GGSA, 707-217-6666, 855-251-4472
Golden Gate Salmon Association Welcomes 2012 Salmon Season Announcement

San Francisco – Members of the Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA) are gearing up for what should be a very good 2012 salmon season following today’s announcement from the Pacific Fisheries Management Council on three possible salmon fishing seasons. All three drafts emerging from the Council’s six day meeting in Sacramento call for full or nearly full salmon seasons in 2012 for both sport and commercial salmon fishermen. The three drafts will be circulated for a month of review and comment before one of them is finalized as the 2012 season. GGSA cheered the fact that after seeing a complete shutdown of ocean salmon fishing in 2008 and 2009, better conservation measures governing Sacramento River water supplies and measures to save salmon from excessive freshwater export pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are paying off.

“We’ve come a long way to get here,” said GGSA president Victor Gonella, “and we’re going to have some good fishing this year thanks to a combination of better water management and a little help from Mother Nature.”

All of the draft seasons anticipate an April 7 opening for the sport fishing season in California and a May 1 opening for the commercial season.

“Consumers can look forward to some of the best food on earth – wild salmon, coming to a dinner plate near them soon,” said Gonella.

“Salmon feed sport fishermen and their families as well as consumers buying from the commercial salmon fleet which handles each fish individually with the best care.”

Based on last year’s salmon returns, fishery officials have calculated there are over 819,000 adult Sacramento River fall run chinook salmon (also known as king salmon) swimming in the ocean now. The bigger surprise is the prediction for the Klamath River where officials calculate almost 1.6 million Klamath king salmon will either be caught, eaten by ocean predators, or return to spawn this year.

Officials calculate the number of adult salmon in the ocean based on the number of two year old (teenage) salmon that came in early to spawn. In 2011 large numbers of two year salmon returned to spawn signaling many more of their year class are still in the ocean, with most expected to return to spawn this year.

In spite of the optimistic predictions for the commercially valuable fall run chinook salmon, the number of federally protected winter-run salmon remains dangerously low, largely due to water mismanagement by state and federal officials. Although an extremely small number of these protected fish are inadvertently taken in the ocean fishery, there is always concern and efforts to minimize that take. The minimum length of 24″ in the sport fishery 27″ in the commercial fishery last year was put in place to avoid take of winter-run. Ocean waters north of Pigeon Point in San Mateo County were closed at the beginning of last year’s season to limit take of protected salmon species.

Federally protected winter and spring run salmon continue to languish in part because so many are lost at the Delta pumps. Unlike the protected winter and spring run salmon, many of the fall run salmon fishermen will target this year were moved as juveniles in tanker trucks around the deadly pumps. Winter run also suffer from higher water temperatures in the upper Sacramento River during spawning and egg incubation times. River temperatures exceed healthy levels when water users downstream take too much of the water salmon need in the summer and fall to cool the river.

“Moving juvenile salmon around the lethal delta pumps is not our preference,” said GGSA director Dick Pool. “It would be far better for all salmon runs if the pumping were further limited to reduce the carnage it causes. Until stricter pumping limits and upriver temperature controls are followed, we’re forced to truck fish for our industries and communities to survive.”

“Healthy salmon runs equate to more jobs, pure and simple,” said GGSA director Roger Thomas. “The more fish we have, the more money is spent by people trying to catch them or in the commercial fishing sector, all of which is great for our economy.”

The Golden Gate Salmon Association is a coalition of salmon advocates that includes commercial and recreational salmon fishermen, businesses, restaurants, tribes, environmentalists, elected officials, families and communities that rely on salmon.

Our mission is to protect and restore California’s largest salmon producing system which is the rivers of the Central Valley that feed the Bay-Delta ecosystem, the habitat salmon need, and the communities that rely on a long-term, sustainable commercial, recreational and cultural salmon resource. Salmon recovery is our passion.

Click HERE to download a pdf of this announcement

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