It's Official: California Salmon Fishing Closed Again This Year!

It will be another year of no salmon fishing on the Sacramento and other Central Valley rivers, the Klamath River and the California Coast. Sacramento River photo by Dan Bacher. |



By Dan Bacher | 

On April 10, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) voted unanimously for a complete closure of recreational and commercial salmon seasons on the California Coast for the second year in a row, based on a CDFW recommendation.

The closure is due to the collapse of Sacramento River fall-run Chinook and Klamath River fall-run Chinook salmon populations for the second year in a row.

“At its March 2024 meeting, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) voted on and approved public review of three alternatives for salmon fisheries along the California coast,” wrote Chuck Bonham, CDFW Director, in a letter to the PFMC. “The first two alternatives offered opportunities for limited commercial and recreational fishing while the third alternative calls for a complete closure of salmon fisheries off California.”

“The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recommends the Council to close ocean salmon fisheries along the California coast and otherwise constrain salmon fishing in Council managed areas to minimize impacts to Sacramento and Klamath origin Chinook salmon stocks,” urged Bonham. 

The CDFW also recommended a complete in-river closures statewide, but that won't be official until the California Fish and Game Commission approves it in May.

The state blames the salmon collapse on the “drought and climate disruption,” while fishing groups, Tribes and environmentalists point to the government’s complicity in the collapse.

“At this point we can’t put the blame solely on drought when Governor Newsom’s water policies are devastating to thousands of families that rely on salmon to pay their rent and mortgages, put food on the table and keep their businesses going,” said Scott Artis, executive director of the Golden State Salmon Association (GSSA). “It’s simple: when the state’s water policies kill off all of the baby salmon, 2 to 3 years later you don’t get many returning adults in the rivers. This is Governor Newsom’s legacy.”   

"Our hearts are breaking for the Tribal, recreational and commercial fishermen of California," said Regina Chichizola from Save California Salmon, which works on both the Klamath and Sacramento Rivers. "This man-made disaster is the direct result of decisions by the Biden and Newsom administrations to support Trump era water plans which prioritize water for agriculture over salmon, cities and communities

“California claims to be environmental leaders, and to be focused on truth and healing for Tribes, but always chooses industrial agriculture over salmon and the communities that depend on them,” Chichizola concluded.

“While incredibly painful to fishing families and fishing communities, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations supports the closure,” said George Bradshaw, president of PCFFA. “We all need to be doing everything we can to give California’s salmon a chance to recover. It has to be an all hands-on deck effort to ensure survival for our Central Valley and Klamath salmon runs.”

Following today’s actions, CDFW said it will work to expedite a request for federal fishery resource disaster determination for the State of California 2024 Sacramento River Fall Chinook and Klamath River Fall Chinook ocean salmon fisheries. Governor Newsom made a similar request in response to the closure in 2023, which was approved.

The Department is currently seeking comments on the 2023 spend plan for the $20,625,729 that has been allocated by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration for the disaster. Comments may be provided via email through 5 p.m., April 19, 2024, at SalmonDisaster@wildlife.ca.gov





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