Photo: Josh Larios

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For the first time ever, the Pacific Fisheries Management Council has voted to cancel the salmon fishing season off the coast of California and much of Oregon due to exceedingly low populations of chinook salmon in the Sacramento River area. The restrictions apply to commercial as well as recreational fishers; only a catch of 9,000 hatchery-raised coho salmon will be allowed this season by sport fishers off central Oregon. However, since the imperiled salmon that make up the Sacramento River run rarely venture as far north as Washington, restrictions there were not as harsh. The council voted to allow a combined commercial, sport, and tribal catch of 45,000 coho salmon and 77,500 chinook salmon this year off the Washington coast. But overall, the outlook is still quite bleak. “Collectively, from Canada to Mexico, this will be the worst ever season off the West Coast,” said Don McIssac of the PFMC. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency and requested federal financial assistance for the state’s fishing industry.

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