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PFMC Report Shows Potential for Good Ocean Fishing
with Strong Fall Chinook Returns in Calif., NW

by Staff
Columbia Basin Bulletin, March 1, 2013

Fishing prospects this summer off the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington would appear to be quite rosy, due to forecasts of large runs of fall chinook headed to the Columbia River, the Klamath River and other spawning destinations.

Those forecasts are assembled in a new report made available this week by the Pacific Fisheries Management Council. "Preseason Report I: Stock Abundance Analysis and Environmental Assessment Part 1 for 2013 Ocean Salmon Fishery Regulations" can be found at:

The report is the second in an annual series of four reports prepared by the Salmon Technical Team of the PFMC to document and help guide commercial and sport salmon fishery management off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California. The new report focuses on chinook, coho, and pink salmon stocks that have been important in determining Council fisheries in recent years, and on stocks listed under the Endangered Species Act with established National Marine Fisheries Service ESA consultation standards.

Columbia River fall chinook stocks typically form the largest contributing stock group to Council-directed chinook fisheries north of Cape Falcon, which is located on the north Oregon coast. That fishing zone stretches north to the Washington-British Columbia border.

The preliminary forecast for 2013 upriver bright fall chinook ocean escapement is 432,500 adults, about 145 percent of last year's return and about 160 percent of the recent 10-year average of 270,880, according to the PFMC report. The URBs are fish headed to destinations upstream of Bonneville Dam.

"This forecast is similar to the record high forecast in 1988 and slightly higher than the record high return to the Columbia River of 420,700 in 1987. This forecast is well above the FMP SMSY conservation objective of 39,625 natural area spawners in the Hanford Reach, Yakima River, and areas above Priest Rapids Dam, and should allow opportunity for both ocean and in-river fisheries.

"The preliminary forecast for 2013 ocean escapement of ESA-listed Snake River wild fall Chinook is 31,600, nearly double last year's preliminary return estimate of 16,983, which is a record high since the construction of dams in the lower Snake River."

Another Columbia River chinook stock that can limit fisheries is the Lower River Hatchery stock. But the forecast looks strong.

"The preliminary forecast for 2013 ocean escapement of LRH fall Chinook is for a return of 88,000 adults, about 104 percent of last year's return and 101 percent of the recent 10-year average of 86,700.

"Based on this abundance forecast, the total allowable LCR natural tule exploitation rate for 2013 fisheries is no greater than 41.0 percent under the matrix developed by the Tule Chinook Workgroup in 2011, which is used by NMFS in developing ESA guidance for this stock," the report says.

"This is the highest exploitation rate allowed under the recommended matrix."

Returns to the Sacramento and Klamath rivers are also expected to be fairly strong. The forecast for the Sacramento is for a return of 834,200 fall chinook, which would be slightly more than the 2012 total of 819,400. Returns to the Sacramento have shot up since a record low return of 54,560 in 2008.

The Klamath forecast is for a return of 727,700 fall chinook spawners. That's down from last year's record total of 1,651,600 but would be the second highest return during the 2005-2013 period. The lowest return during that period was 110,000 in 2006.

The report will be formally reviewed during the Council's March 6-11 meeting in Tacoma, Wash. During the meeting the PFMC and its advisory bodies will address issues related to salmon, Pacific halibut, groundfish, coastal pelagic species, highly migratory species, and habitat matters.

For more information, including a meeting agenda, go to:

Key agenda items include Council considerations to:

The Pacific Fishery Management Council is one of eight regional fishery management councils established by the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976.

With jurisdiction over the 317,690 square mile exclusive economic zone off Washington, Oregon and California

PFMC Report Shows Potential for Good Ocean Fishing with Strong Fall Chinook Returns in Calif., NW
Columbia Basin Bulletin, March 1, 2013

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