— Worst Klamath chinook run on record forecast

From the Oregonian

March 15, 2017
by Bill Monroe

The worst run forecast on record for the Klamath River’s chinook salmon could close all salmon fishing along most of the Oregon Coast this summer.

That’s the most draconian of three season alternatives adopted Monday by the Pacific Fishery Management Council, meeting in Vancouver, Wash.

All three, however, allow some coho and chinook fishing in the Pacific Ocean north of Cape Falcon, including popular fisheries off the mouth of the Columbia River. Seasons would be similar to 2016.

Fishery options

South of Cape Falcon, near Manzanita, Sacramento and Klamath river chinook mix with other returning salmon, so to protect them, all salmon sportfishing might close after April 30.

(That alternative is similar to a closure proposal in 2008, spurred by a low run into the Sacramento River. However, there was a tightly limited coho fishery that year. The economic shock to the coast brought a state-of-emergency declaration from Gov. Ted Kulongoski and a release of $1 million to help the commercial and charter fishing industries.)

Two other 2017 alternatives allow for both coho and chinook fishing seasons similar to last summer (but only south to Humbug Mountain near Port Orford) and the most liberal allows for a September non-marked coho fishery.

 

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— Klamath fall Chinook salmon forecast: “lowest on record, unprecedented, exceptionally difficult”; commercial fishing may be closed from Oregon to Mexico border; March, April hearings

From the Mendocino Beacon

Slim chance for commercial salmon season, sport season likely to be cut

3-16-17

Commercial salmon fishing grounds around Fort Bragg in 2017 will either be closed completely, or open only in the month of September, according to options published by the Pacific Fisheries Management Council this week. Sport fishing seasons are also likely to be shorter than in previous years, the PFMC said.

The council will hold a meeting at Fort Bragg’s Town Hall on March 28 to take public input on the proposed seasons.

The following is a PFMC statement on the proposed seasons:

The PFMC on March 13 adopted three public review alternatives for the 2017 salmon seasons off the West Coast of the United States. The Council will select a final alternative at its next meeting in Sacramento, California on April 6-11.

Detailed information about season starting dates, areas open, and catch limits for all three alternatives are available on the council’s website at http://www.pcouncil.org or http://tinyurl.com/salmon2017. Fisheries south of Cape Falcon (in northern Oregon) are limited by the need to protect Klamath River fall Chinook, and south of Point Arena (in northern California), they are also affected by the need to protect Sacramento River winter Chinook. Returns of spawning Klamath River fall Chinook are projected to be the lowest on record in 2017 due to drought, disease, poor ocean conditions, and other issues. At the same time, the Council must protect Sacramento winter-run Chinook, which are listed under the Endangered Species Act. Because both of these fish intermix with other stocks in the ocean, fisheries targeting more abundant stocks must be constrained.

The salmon runs this year will present a challenge for ocean fishermen and managers throughout the West Coast,” said Executive Director Chuck Tracy. “In the north, several coho runs will keep ocean quotas lower than normal. In the south, the low forecast for Klamath River fall Chinook is unprecedented, and the most restrictive alternative the council will consider allows no ocean fishing between Cape Falcon, Oregon and the U.S./Mexico border after April 30 this year.”

This year will be an exceptionally difficult year for ocean salmon fisheries, especially in Oregon and California. However, there are alternatives that may provide at least limited opportunity for both commercial and recreational ocean salmon fishing along much of the coast,” said Council Chair Herb Pollard. Northern Oregon and Washington (north of Cape Falcon)

SPORT SEASON ALTERNATIVES

Ocean sport fishery options north of Cape Falcon in Oregon and off the Washington coast are focused on Chinook salmon this year. One alternative includes a mark-selective Chinook fishery in June, while all alternatives include Chinook fishing opportunity in June or July-September, which are not mark-selective. Chinook recreational quotas range from 40,000 to 54,500. For coho, two alternatives allow modest coastwide opportunity. One allows opportunity for 58,800 hatchery coho in late June through September; the other allows opportunity for 50,400 hatchery coho in late June through September. A third alternative permits limited coho fishing only in the Columbia River area between Cape Falcon and Leadbetter Point, with a coho quota of 18,900 hatchery coho that starts in July and runs into September.

Non-Indian ocean commercial fishery alternatives north of Cape Falcon include traditional Chinook seasons between May and September. Chinook quotas for all areas and times range from 40,000 to 50,000, compared to 35,000 in 2016. Two commercial fishery alternatives allow retention of coho, with quotas of 5,600 and 9,600 marked coho (compared to only one alternative in 2016 with a quota of 7,200 marked coho). A third alternative prohibits coho retention in the commercial fishery.

TRIBAL OCEAN FISHERIES NORTH OF CAPE FALCON

Chinook and coho quotas for tribal ocean fishery alternatives range from 30,000 to 50,000 for Chinook salmon, and from 12,500 to 40,000 for coho. Seasons open May 1 and run through September 15.

California and southern Oregon (south of Cape Falcon)

Sport season options

From the north, recreational season alternatives south of Cape Falcon are heavily constrained this year to protect Klamath River fall Chinook. Alternatives for Oregon Chinook fishing in the Tillamook, Newport, and Coos Bay areas all open March 15 and run either continuously through October 31 or are closed May through August. Oregon ocean recreational alternatives include mark-selective coho fishing seasons starting in June or July, and running through July or into early August in the area between Cape Falcon and the Oregon/California border. Quotas range from 20,000 to 30,000 marked coho. In addition, a non-mark-selective fishery is proposed for the area between Cape Falcon and Humbug Mt. in September, with a quota of 10,000 coho.

Due to the poor status of Klamath River fall Chinook, none of the alternatives provide for chinook-directed fisheries in the Klamath Management Zone, which extends from Humbug Mt., Oregon to Horse Mt., California. One alternative does include a mark-selective coho fishery in the Oregon portion of the Klamath Management Zone and extending north to Cape Falcon.

California ocean sport fishing alternatives for areas south of Horse Mountain provide seasons that are fairly conservative in comparison to recent years to protect Klamath River fall Chinook and Sacramento River winter Chinook. These protective measures include shortened seasons and mid-season closures.

COMMERCIAL SEASON OPTIONS

As with recreational seasons, commercial season alternatives south of Cape Falcon are heavily constrained this year to protect Klamath River fall Chinook. Chinook salmon seasons under Alternative 1 include an opening in the Tillamook and Newport areas from mid-April through October, with several closed periods. In Alternative 2, the Tillamook, Newport and Coos Bay area seasons would be open most days beginning in mid-April through early June and two days in August. Under Alternative 3, commercial salmon fishing would be closed in these areas. As in the sport fishery, commercial salmon fishing is not allowed in the Klamath Management Zone in any of the alternatives to protect Klamath River fall Chinook.

Commercial season alternatives south of the Klamath Management Zone are also heavily constrained this year to protect Klamath River fall Chinook and Sacramento River winter Chinook. In the Fort Bragg management area (Horse Mt. to Pt. Arena), two of the alternatives are completely closed, and the third only provides for a September fishery. There is more opportunity south of Pt. Arena, but seasons are still constrained compared to recent years. Two of the alternatives include August-October fisheries in the San Francisco management area (Pt. Arena to Pigeon Pt.) and May-June fisheries in the Monterey management area (Pigeon Pt. to the U.S./Mexico border), but the third alternative has these areas closed for the whole season.

MANAGEMENT PROCESS

Public hearings to receive input on the alternatives are scheduled for March 27 in Westport, Washington and Coos Bay, Oregon; and for March 28 in Fort Bragg, California. The Council will consult with scientists, hear public comment, revise preliminary decisions and choose a final alternative at its meeting April 6-11 in Sacramento, California.

The Council will forward its final season recommendations to National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for its approval and implementation by May 1. All Council meetings are open to the public.

http://www.mendocinobeacon.com/general-news/20170316/slim-chance-for-commercial-salmon-season-sport-season-likely-to-be-cut

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As Pacific sardine collapse worsens, scientists worry about ecosystem ripple

Researchers can’t tell exactly what’s driving the die-off…”Those ocean life patterns are just not working the way they have in the past,” said Michael Milstein, a spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

From the Oregonian

By Kelly House | The Oregonian/OregonLive
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
March 10, 2016

Charts on website

Nearly a year into a West Coast sardine fishing ban enacted to protect the collapsing population, the fish formerly worth more than $8 million to Oregon’s economy have shown no signs of a comeback.

New federal research indicates numbers of the small, silvery, schooling fish have plummeted further than before the fishing moratorium, dashing any hope of lifting it in 2016.

With the current sardine population hovering at 7 percent of its 2007 peak, fishermen now say they expect to wait a decade or more to revive the fishery.

“I don’t want to take a pessimistic view, but I would think we’ll be shut down until 2030,” said Ryan Kapp, a Bellingham fisherman who advises the Pacific Fishery Management Council on sardines and other fish.

Sardines aren’t struggling in isolation. Other fish near the bottom of the marine food web, such as anchovies and herring, are also down. The shortage of sustenance is rippling upward to create crises for predator species from seals to seabirds.

Researchers can’t tell exactly what’s driving the die-off, nor how long it will last. Some say the crash can be attributed to cyclical boom-and-bust population dynamics sardines have always exhibited.

Others argue overfishing played a role, driving sardine populations down too far and too fast to blame it on a natural population flux.

Then there’s the unavoidable presence of the “warm blob,” a lingering mass of overheated water that for more than two years has wreaked havoc on sea life off the Pacific coast.

Those ocean life patterns are just not working the way they have in the past,” said Michael Milstein, a spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the federal agency that tracks sardine numbers. “There’s a feeling that a lot of this is environmentally-driven.”

RIPPLES IN THE FOOD CHAIN

The Pacific fishery council’s rules call for a fishery shutdown if the total weight of adult sardines falls below 150,000 metric tons. When the population fell below that threshold last spring, council members scrambled to enact a midseason shutdown.

Federal scientists last month estimated sardine biomass has dropped below 65,000 tons this year.

Even with fishing pressures lifted, sardines could struggle to bounce back in an ocean devoid of their main food source. The lipid-rich coldwater plankton that sardines like to eat have become scarcer in West Coast waters, replaced by tropical species with less appeal to the region’s predators. Scientists suspect the warm blob is causing the plankton shift.

Without that food source, “the whole system can suffer,” said Kerry Griffin, who manages sardines for the Pacific Fishery Management Council.

The end result is ominous for more than just fishermen. Oily sardines are a key food source for larger ocean-going animals. As that option becomes scarce, predators switch to less-nutritious food options and can end up starving.

Scientists believe that chain reaction is already playing out in a big way. A group of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researchers last week released a study linking the sardine collapse to the surge in starving sea lion pups washing ashore along the California coast. The scientists who authored the study say they expect the mass starvation that stranded 3,000 pups last year to continue as long as forage fish numbers remain low.

Similar phenomena have been observed among other species that target small schooling fish for food. Brown pelicans are failing to breed, dead Guadalupe fur seals are washing ashore in California, undersize salmon are returning to Canadian spawning grounds and seabirds are washing ashore weakened or dead on the Oregon coast.

OVERFISHING?

Environmentalists for years warned that a sardine collapse was imminent. Now they have begun lobbying to get more conservative harvest policies in place before the fishery reopens.

Research shows that overfishing intensifies the cyclical downturns of sardines and other small fish, and ocean conservation groups argue current West Coast standards are too permissive to prevent overfishing.

Ben Enticknap, a Portland-based campaign manager for the international conservation group Oceana, said the group is pushing the council to adopt new standards that would trigger a fishing ban once the sardine stock drops below 640,000 metric tons. That trigger point is more than four times higher than the current level.

The group is also lobbying for a rule to prohibit fishermen from hauling in more than 15 percent of the adult population in a given season. In the final years of harvest before last year’s shutdown, fishermen caught as much as 28 percent of the adult sardines in the water.

“Fundamental flaws in management have to be fixed, or this crash will be repeated in the future,” Enticknap said.

CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM

Although the overall results of this year’s sardine count were discouraging, scientists say there’s a glimmer of hope.

Several years of poor reproduction helped drive down the sardine population. In their latest trawl, scientists saw evidence that 2015 was a good spawning year.

It’s too soon to tell whether the reproductive success signals a turning point.

“There are some potentially positive signs there,” Milstein said, but in order to boost population counts, “the young need to survive long enough to make it into the mature population.”

–Kelly House

khouse@oregonian.com
503-221-8178
@Kelly_M_House

http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2016/03/as_pacific_sardine_collapse_wo.html

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– Scientist: “We’re worried”; Parasites ‘never seen before’ are washing up on West Coast; Finding unidentifiable ‘strange’ creatures ‘new to science’

From KGW Portland
February 26, 2015

PORT ORFORD, Ore. (AP) – A fish normally found in the ocean off Japan and other tropical waters has turned up alive in a crab pot hauled up by a fisherman off the Oregon coast.

It’s possible the fish – a striped knifejaw – came across the Pacific in debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami, said John Chapman, an invasive species specialist at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. Other possibilities include the fish being discharged from a ship’s ballast or dumped from an aquarium.

This is only the second confirmed discovery of a striped knifejaw on the West Coast, Chapman said. The other was March 2013, when five striped knifejaws were found alive near Long Beach, Washington, in a boat that had drifted over from Japan. Four were killed, and the fifth put in an aquarium for display.

The new fish, found off Port Orford, is 5 inches long, shaped like a sunfish, with black and white stripes. It was taken to the Hatfield Center in Newport, where a veterinarian was ready to treat it for cuts on its belly, Chapman said.

It was lucky the fisherman who found the fish recognized it as an exotic, put it in a well on his boat, and turned it over to the university, said John Calvanese, an Oregon State graduate student working at a field station in Port Orford.

An estimated 300 different invasive species have drifted across the Pacific on tsunamis debris, Chapman said. Most are small invertebrates. Many are unidentifiable, either because they are in a stage of life not recognized by scientists or they are new to science.

“Debris is still coming across the ocean,” Chapman said. “We know there is this conveyor of species from Asia land on our shores. We’ve found parasites inside mussels that came across, mussels themselves that are strange, and oysters with parasites that have never been seen before, even in Asia. We’re worried.”

http://www.kgw.com/story/news/local/2015/02/26/striped-knifefish-fukushima-tsunami-oregon-coast/24059713/

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