In a statement released yesterday, the Pacific Fisheries Management Council presented several alternatives to currently in-place management practices for the upcoming Chinook and Coho salmon season. According to the statement, a combination of good river conditions and excellent ocean conditions has led to what is expected to be above-average returns for most rivers in northern California and southern and central Oregon.
Returns of Chinook to the Sacramento, Rogue, and Klamath are expected to be "well above" last year's totals, with the Klamath expected to see four times as many returning salmon versus last year. When compared to totals from 2006, the forecasted returns for 2012 are expected to be an estimated 15 times greater. The current ocean population of Klamath Chinook is estimated at 1.6 million, one of the highest totals ever recorded.
According to council chairman Dan Wolford, “it is great to see such a nice rebound for California salmon populations and the prospect of good fishing in 2012."
Northern Oregon and Washington (north of Cape Falcon) are expected to see returns of both Chinook and Coho salmon more in line with previous years, although still above average. Approximately 742,500 summer and fall Chinook are expected to return to the Columbia River compared to an actual return in 2011 of 684,400.
The council will hear opinions on its proposed management alternatives on March 26 and March 27. A final decision on 2012 management practices will be made during the upcoming PFMC meetings scheduled for the week of April 1.