EUREKA, Calif. — California salmon anglers will be forced to consider other methods of income this year, as the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) plans to cancel this year's salmon season in the state.
Humboldt fisherman Jake McMaster has had a difficult past few months after a short and unlucrative crab season, and now, the news that salmon season will be cancelled has him in troubled waters again.
"With the crab here that wasn't the greatest, we would have depended on [salmon] pretty heavily, and we'll just have to focus our attentions on other fisheries," McMaster said.
The PFMC's decision to cancel salmon season is based on record low numbers of salmon that returned to California's rivers after last season. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the 2023 projection for Sacramento River fall Chinook is the lowest one since 2008 when the assessment began, and the Klamath River's projection is the second lowest since its assessment began in 1997.
"There wasn't going to be enough fish to return to the river, so there wasn't going to be a season," McMaster said.
Now, McMaster and other fishermen across the state will have to consider other ways to compensate for the lack of salmon stocks this year.
"You're going to have to find something else to do, whether that's black cod or albacore, and there's only a couple things you can do that are, quote unquote, open access that you don't need a permit for," McMaster said.
This potential increased fishing of other species could lead to issues of its own.
"It's just kind of a trickle down effect, and can make for some very crowded oceans and a lot of boats on the water targeting one thing," McMaster said.
But that's a bridge McMaster will have to face when he gets to it. In the meantime, he has bigger fish to fry.
"For guys that own their boats, you don't really have a choice besides go fishing or go broke," McMaster said.
The PFMC is meeting Apr. 1-7 to officially adopt the regulations that would cancel salmon season in California.
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