California’s chinook salmon population near “unprecedented collapse”
The number of chinook salmon returning from the Pacific Ocean to California’s Sacramento River is near record lows and points to an “unprecedented collapse,” according to fisheries managers. In 2007, only about 90,000 adult chinook returned to the Sacramento River, down from about 277,000 in 2006 and a high of over 800,000 in 2002. Even more troubling, juvenile chinook salmon numbers last year hit a new low with only about 2,000 of them returning. Counts of young salmon typically foreshadow adult numbers in later years, so for now the outlook is particularly bleak. The executive director of the Pacific Fishery Management Council summarized the situation as a possible “unprecedented collapse” and hinted to fellow councilors that they’ll be considering harsh restrictions on salmon fishing this year because of it — possibly an outright ban. The council meets to discuss the issue in March; a final decision will be made in April.