A bleak salmon season for local fishermen


EUREKA, Calf. - The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations said this year's Klamath Chinook Salmon run is projected to be the lowest in history. According to North Coast Senator Mike McGuire, 2017's salmon season has not been good on local tribes, fisheries, or those whose livelihoods depend on salmon.

The bleak outlook has left local fisherman in a tough spot.

"I had trips where it was two fish a day, three fish a day, it's tough. It's hard to make that go, you can't cover your expenses like that," said Bob Borck.

Borck's been a fisherman for the last 25 years, but the bleak salmon season forced him to make a decision.

"It just got tougher and tougher for me to keep justifying going one more handful into my pocket to keep it going, and so I decided to cut my losses and get out," said Borck. So he sold his boat.

And Borck is not the only one hurting from this historic salmon shortage.

Tribes like the Karuk and Yurok depend on the salmon for survival.

Yurok Chairman, Thomas O'Rourke said, "It's devastating not to be able to have enough fish for all of our people let alone to be able to share with community members and visitors coming in from out of the area."

As a result, local tribes are being limited to a small salmon harvest for ceremonial purposes and for subsistence. Which ends up only being one salmon for every ten tribal members, all while recreational salmon fishing in Klamath and Trinity rivers are closed.

State lawmakers are meeting for a hearing next week to try to find solutions to the salmon crisis. Craig Tucker, will be representing the Karuk Tribe in next week's hearing. He said, "The Karuk Tribe and other tribes in the region are really focused on solutions."

One of those proposed solutions is to remove the four lower dams in the Klamath River. "Once we remove these dams, the fish will be able to recolonize in the upper basin; the water is going to be clearer, colder, and healthier for these fish," said Tucker.

Tucker said if the proposal passes, it would be the largest dam removal and salmon restoration effort in the country's history. Now it's up to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to do an environmental review, and likely make a decision by 2019.