On Wednesday, The Columbian reported that the “feds” might restrict salmon fishing along the coasts of Oregon and Washington in “bad run” years to protect chinook salmon to provide more food for orcas. This recommendation comes from the Pacific Fisheries Management Council to NOAA.
The PFMC knows the majority of the chinook harvest occurs off coastal Alaska and British Columbia on ESA-listed wild and hatchery stocks from the Columbia River and Puget Sound. The 2019 PFMC annual report documents almost 1 million chinook salmon were taken before they could return to their home waters. That number is roughly equal to the number of returning fish that would trigger drastic fishing restrictions.
A fundamental problem with the offshore fisheries, from Alaska to California, is that most are non-selective and catch ESA-listed fish with the hatchery fish. NOAA does nothing to change these fishing practices.
Chinook are on the brink of extinction. Of the challenges facing chinook, the one that is within our control is to eliminate or reduce non-selective ocean troll fisheries. While federal fisheries managers are considering such a Draconian closure, they ignore the main source of salmon overharvest. To save chinook salmon and endangered orcas, destructive salmon fisheries must end.