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Commission adopts recreational ocean and river salmon seasons

by: Dan Bacher

Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 16:39:48 PM PDT


The California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) adopted ocean and inland salmon season regulations for 2013 at its April 17 meeting in Santa Rosa as anglers, tribal members, family farmers and environmentalists fight to stop the destruction of Central Valley salmon populations under Governor Jerry Brown's peripheral tunnels plan.

Forecasts of abundant Sacramento and Klamath River fall Chinook salmon allowed the Commission to adopt long seasons and liberal bag limits, according to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

"California salmon fishermen have endured 'boom and bust' seasons over the past decade," said FGC President Michael Sutton. "The Commission is delighted that forecast salmon returns are high enough this year to justify greater catch limits."

State and federal scientists estimate that the numbers of returning Sacramento River fall-run Chinook and Klamath River fall-run Chinook salmon will exceed conservation objectives.

"California anglers are looking forward to some excellent salmon fishing opportunities this season," said Stafford Lehr, CDFW Fisheries Branch Chief. "The ocean abundance and projected inland returns are good for both the Sacramento and Klamath River fall Chinook. The Klamath River fall Chinook ocean forecast is the third highest since 1985."

Ironically, the adoption of the regulations based on improving salmon numbers took place just two days after a Brown administration official admitted that the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDC) to build the tunnels has nothing to do with restoring the Delta, the estuary that Central Valley chinook salmon, steehead, sturgeon, Delta smelt, striped bass and a host of other species depend on for survival.

While speaking with Tom Stokely of the California Water Impact Network at a meeting with Northern California's Native American Tribes on Monday, Natural Resources Agency Deputy Director Jerry Meral said, "BDCP is not about, and has never been about saving the Delta. The Delta cannot be saved."

"Now if Governor Brown and State officials would just stop pretending it's a habitat plan to save fish when speaking with the press," according to Restore the Delta (http://www.restorethedelta.org/or-is-it-the-point/)

The newly adopted ocean salmon sport fishing regulations conform to those adopted by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) last week. The opening date in the Klamath Management Zone is May 1. All other zones are currently open. Complete ocean salmon regulations are posted at: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/o...

On all Central Valley rivers, the daily bag and possession limit is two Chinook salmon.

On the Trinity and Klamath rivers the daily bag limit is three adult Chinook 22 inches or longer and one Chinook jack less than 22 inches. The possession limit is nine adults and three jacks prior to reaching the quota. All anglers must have Salmon Harvest Cards in their possession when fishing for salmon on the Klamath and Trinity rivers.

Key elements of the newly adopted ocean and inland salmon seasons and regulations for Central Valley and the Klamath and Trinity rivers are listed below. The full regulations package approved by the Commission will be available at http://www.fgc.ca.gov/regulati...

SACRAMENTO RIVER
Open Aug. 1 through Dec.16 from the Deschutes Road Bridge near Anderson downstream to 500 feet upstream from Red Bluff Diversion Dam.
Open July 16 through Dec. 16 from 150 feet below the Lower Red Bluff (Sycamore) boat ramp to the Highway 113 Bridge near Knights Landing.
Open July 16 through Dec. 16 from the Highway 113 Bridge near Knights Landing downstream to the Carquinez Bridge.

FEATHER RIVER
Open July 16 through Oct. 15 from unimproved boat launch ramp above the Thermalito Afterbay Outfall downstream to 200 yards above the Live Oak boat ramp.
Open July 16 through Dec. 16 from 200 yards above Live Oak boat ramp to the mouth.

AMERICAN RIVER
Open from July 16 through Dec. 31 from Nimbus Dam to Hazel Avenue Bridge.
Open from July 16 through Aug. 15 from Hazel Avenue Bridge to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) gauging station cable crossing near Nimbus Hatchery.
Open July 16 through Oct. 31 from the USGS gauging station cable crossing near Nimbus Hatchery to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) power line crossing the southwest boundary of Ancil Hoffman Park.
Open from July 16 through Dec. 31 from the SMUD power line crossing at the southwest boundary of Ancil Hoffman Park to the Jibboom Street Bridge.
Open July 16 through Dec. 16. from the Jibboom Street Bridge to the mouth.

MOKELUMNE RIVER
Open July 16 through Oct. 15 from Camanche Dam to the Highway 99 Bridge.
Open July 16 through Dec. 31 from the Highway 99 Bridge to the Woodbridge Irrigation District Dam, including Lodi Lake.
Open July 16 through Dec. 16 from the Lower Sacramento Road Bridge to the mouth. (For purposes of this regulation, this river segment is defined as Mokelumne River and its tributary sloughs downstream of the Lower Sacramento Road Bridge, east of Highway 160 and north of Highway 12.)

KLAMATH RIVER
Open to fall-run Chinook salmon fishing from Aug. 15 through Dec. 31 with a daily bag limit of four Chinook salmon, no more than three adult Chinook salmon 22 inches or greater when the take of adult Chinook is allowed and a possession limit of twelve Chinook salmon, no more than nine adults 22 inches or greater when the take of adults is allowed. The 2013 quota for the Klamath River basin is 40,006 fall-run salmon greater than 22 inches. Once this quota has been met, no Chinook salmon greater than 22 inches long may be retained (anglers may still retain a limit of Chinook salmon less than 22 inches). A weekly CDFW status report will be available by calling 1-800-564-6479.
Open to spring-run Chinook salmon fishing from Jan. 1 through Aug. 14 with a daily bag and possession limit of two salmon. The take of salmon is prohibited on the Klamath River from Iron Gate Dam downstream to Weitchpec from Jan. 1 through Aug. 14.

TRINITY RIVER
Open to fall-run Chinook salmon fishing from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31 with a daily bag limit of four Chinook salmon, no more than three Chinook salmon 22 inches or larger and a possession limit of twelve Chinook salmon, no more than nine adults greater than 22 inches. The 2013 quota for the Klamath River basin is 40,006 fall-run salmon more than 22 inches long. Once this quota has been met, no Chinook salmon greater than 22 inches long may be retained (anglers may still retain a limit of Chinook salmon less than 22 inches. A weekly CDFW status report will be available by calling 1-800-564-6479. The Trinity River main stem downstream of the Highway 299 Bridge at Cedar Flat to the Denny Road Bridge in Hawkins Bar is closed to all fishing Sept. 1 through Dec. 31.
Open to spring-run Chinook salmon fishing from Jan. 1 through Aug. 31. The daily bag and possession limit is two Chinook salmon. The take of salmon is prohibited from the confluence of the South Fork Trinity River downstream to the confluence of the Klamath River from Jan. 1 through Aug. 31.

All other regulations for bag and possession limits for trout, salmon and other species, as well as general information about restrictions on fishing methods and gear on the above rivers, are available on the CDFW website at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations

Summary of PFMC Ocean Season:

The FGC also adopted sport fishing ocean regulations consistent with those adopted April 11 by the Pacific Fishery Management Council. From the Oregon-California border to Horse Mountain in Humboldt County the season will run from May 1 through September 8. In the Shelter Cove and Fort Bragg areas, the season opened April 6 and will continue through November 10. The minimum size limit in these ports north of Point Arena will be 20 inches the entire season.

Between Point Arena and Pigeon Point, in the San Francisco area, the PFMC set the season to be open seven days per week through November 10, except from June 1 through July 9, when Mondays and Tuesdays will be closed to salmon fishing. The minimum size limit is 24 inches through the end of July, and 20 inches thereafter.

For the areas south of Pigeon Point to the U.S-Mexico border, including Monterey Bay, salmon fishing will continue seven days per week through October 6, except from June 1 through July 9, when Mondays and Tuesdays will be closed to salmon fishing. The minimum size limit will remain 24 inches throughout the season.

The ocean bag and possession limit in California is two salmon of any species except coho. For complete California ocean salmon regulations, please visit the ocean salmon web page at: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/o... or call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline (707) 576-3429.

Salmon are still in big trouble

While fall-run Chinook salmon numbers have improved from the collapse of 2008-2009, allowing recreational and commercial fishing to resume on the California and Southern Oregon coast, the species is still in big trouble. The Central Valley Project Improvement Act of 1992 set a goal of doubling Chinook salmon and other anadromous fish species by 2002.

The salmon population now stands at only 20 percent of the population goal required by federal law. There was a steady decline of fish from 2003 to 2010, including a record low of 7 percent. The closest we got to meeting the salmon doubling goal was in 2002, when the index peaked at 64.33 percent of the doubling goal. (http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/11/23/salmon-on-the-brink/)

The decline is the result of massive water exports out of the California Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas.

Between 2000 and 2011, more than 130,000,000 fish were "salvaged" in the massive state and federal pumps diverting water to corporate agribusiness and southern California, according to a white paper written by Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA). Considering that recent studies point out that 5 to 10 times more fish are lost than salvaged, the actual number of fish lost could be 1.3 billion or higher. (http://www.restorethedelta.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/CSPA-BDCP-Fish-Screens-Revised.pdf)

The carnage in the pumps has impacted 42 species, including Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, Sacramento splittail, green sturgeon, striped bass, largemouth bass American shad and threadfin shad.

Record water amounts of water were exported from the Delta under the Brown administration in 2011 - 6,520,000 acre-feet, 217,000 acre feet more than the previous record of 6,303,000 acre feet set in 2005 under the Schwarzenegger administration. The massive diversion of water resulted in the record "salvage" of nearly 9 million splittail, a fish formerly listed under the Endangered Species Act and delisted during a political scandal under the Bush administration, and over 2 million other fish.

Rather than improving the dismal state of California fish populations, the Brown and Obama administrations are fast tracking the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels. This project would likely lead to the extinction of Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt and other species, according to agency and independent scientists. (http://www.bay.org/assets/BDCP%20EA%20Briefing%20Paper%2022912.pdf)

As Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, said, "The common people will pay for the tunnels and a few people will make millions. It will turn a once pristine waterway into a sewer pipe. It will be bad for the fish, the ocean and the people of California."

"The Winnemem Wintu Tribe supports No Tunnels - No Shasta Dam Raise! There should be billions of dollars spent for cleaning up the rivers, not diverting them," she concluded.

For more information, go to: http://www.restorethedelta.org.

Dan Bacher :: Commission adopts recreational ocean and river salmon seasons
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