Recreational Salmon Season Opens, Commercial Still Not Decided
Although recreational salmon fishing started on Saturday, April 3, the start of a season for commercial fishermen has yet to be determined.
Ed Liebig of Miss Anita Fishing Charter in Bodega Bay said that his party boat fishermen were catching 8-10 lb. salmon on Saturday, but Easter Sunday’s big storm wiped out any idea of going out that day.
“We will be going out Thursday through Sunday every week of April, weather-permitting, and we are nearly fully booked.”
Liebig sympathized with the Bodega Bay commercial fishermen still not knowing when or if there will be a season for them in 2010.
There were no commercial or recreational salmon fishing seasons here in 2008 or 2009, resulting in a severe economic loss for many.
The states of Washington, Oregon, and California are all divided into individual commercial fisheries. Bodega Bay is in the California North Central Fishery (CNCF) which extends from Point Arena south to Pigeon Point (San Francisco).
Like all commercial fisheries from the Canadian border to the Mexican, its fate will be tentatively decided by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) which is meeting from April 10-15 in Portland, Oregon.
Three commercial troll management options (fishing seasons) for salmon fisheries were spelled out earlier by the Council. Each area has three options with dates and/or quotas different from the others. For each area, only one option will be adopted.
The three options for CNCF (Bodega Bay and San Francisco) are as follows:
- July 15 through August 29 and September 1-30. All salmon except coho. Chinook minimum size limit of 27 inches total length.
- July 5 through August 29 and September 1-30. All salmon except coho. Chinook minimum size of 27 inches total length.
- Closed except for sufficient impacts to conduct experimental genetic stock identification study May 1 through September 30. All salmon must be released in good condition after collection of biological samples.
Effectively, the decisions at the meeting will be made by the PFMC, as well as by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service.
According to the PFMC’s website, it is NOAA that has the “final word” in regulations regarding salmon fishing.
This is verified on the NOAA website: “NOAA Fisheries Service establishes fishery management measures for the ocean salmon fisheries off Washington, Oregon, and California.”
In January of this year, NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service sent a survey to Bodega Bay residents asking “households” to voluntarily answer questions relating to their opinion of “the role of marine resources in coastal economies.”
“The data collected from this survey will be used to help NOAA Fisheries determine how important marine resources are to the whole Bodega Bay Community, not just the commercial fishing industry.”(Italics are those of this writer.)
In an article published in the Press Democrat On-Line on February 9, 2010, I pointed out how one of the questions seemed to be the main point of the survey.
“Natural resource management decisions require difficult trade-offs (again italics are those of the writer) between environmental and economic considerations,” is how the introduction to the question was phrased by NOAA.
It seemed to be unfairly asking residents to choose between their personal environmental concerns and possibly the future of commercial fishing on our coast.
(To see the article in full, go down to Older Posts and look for “Bodega Bay Residents Participate in NOAA Survey.”)
The introductory letter for the survey stated that the data collected would by kept confidential and that the results would be combined and used in “summary form” to assist NOAA Fisheries.
Just how much or how little that survey, which was sent to several Pacific coast towns, will have an effect on whether our fishermen will have a commercial salmon season this year is not known.