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NW Fishletter #226, February 20, 2007

[5] Value Of 2006 West Coast Salmon Season Down 62 Percent

A new report from the Pacific Fishery Management Council on the economic impacts of last year's West Coast salmon season shows just how devastating the harvest cutbacks were to fishermen's pocketbooks. The harvest reductions were put in place to allow more Klamath River chinook to spawn.

Despite the best prices for chinook in 25 years, the value of the West Coast fishery was down 62 percent from 2005 coastwide, with only $9 million in chinook landed by the troll fleets. Recreational angling was down on the ocean as well, nearly 30 percent in vessel-based trips. Adding both commercial and recreational segments, the report said the 2006 income impact amounted to more than $37 million, down nearly 50 percent from 2005, and nearly 90 percent less than glory years like 1979.

Coastal fishers may get more harvest time this year, due more to political pressure than any biological reason, since last year's drastic cuts allowed about 50 percent more natural spawners to return to the Klamath than managers had expected. About 30,000 actually showed up. This year's return is a mixed bag of news, with the returning 4-year-old component estimated from an all-time low abundance level of 26,100, and the 5's at 4,700 fish. Last year, the pre-season forecast included 64,000 4-year-olds and 2,200 5-year-olds.

But the Klamath may soon turn around in a big way. The good news is that the 3-ocean component is forecast to be the largest on record--515,000. Last year's age-3 component was estimated at only 44,000 fish.

The value of Columbia River fisheries was more than half that of the coastal fisheries, with commercial gillnetters hauling in nearly $3 million worth of chinook, coho and chum, up about 40 percent.

Tribal fisheries upriver of Bonneville Dam took advantage of the high prices as well, with about $2 million worth of salmon sold to commercial buyers, with an unknown amount sold "over the bank" to the public, up nearly 90 percent in value from the year before. The report said the tribes caught more than 900,000 pounds of fall chinook, down from 2005's 1.4 million pounds. But they caught 180,000 pounds of spring chinook as well, way up from last year's 67,000 pounds.

Washington tribal fisheries off the state's coast accounted for about $1.2 million, after harvesting 30,000 chinook and 32, 000 coho. -B. R.

The following links were mentioned in this story:

Review of 2006 Ocean Salmon Fisheries

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