Chinook Salmon Harvest Rates Set by Pacific Fishery Management Council

On April 20, 2011, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) issued its final management measures for the 2011 salmon fisheries season. The report, titled Preseason Report III: Analysis of Council-Adopted Regulatory Measures for 2011 Ocean Salmon Fisheries (pdf), covers the period of May 1, 2011 through April 30, 2012, and is the last in a series of three preseason reports prepared by the Council’s Salmon Technical Team to guide salmon fishery management off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California. The report will be submitted to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to be approved and implemented by NMFS pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The Council expects that the measures will go into effect May 1, 2011.

The report indicates, among other things, that an ocean harvest is permitted in 2011 for Sacramento River fall run (SRFR) Chinook salmon. Based on an estimated SRFR Chinook population of 729,900 adults, the management measures provide for an escapement of 377,000 fish. Accordingly, based on this data, the harvest rate for SRFR Chinook for the 2011 season appears to be approximately 49%, or 352,900 fish.

According to the biological opinion (pdf) issued in April 2010 regarding ocean salmon fisheries, the SRFR Chinook salmon harvest is mixed-stock, meaning that winter-run Chinook may be caught along with fall-run. Given that winter-run is listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and that winter-run could be caught as part of the SRFR Chinook harvest, the Council’s decision to authorize a harvest rate of 49% is particularly noteworthy. However, according to the report, the Council’s 2011 regulations meet or exceed the level of protection required by all consultation standards for the salmon species listed under the ESA.

The report is the culmination of the preseason process undertaken by the Council to develop recommendations for management of ocean fisheries. The salmon management measures are adopted pursuant to the Salmon Fishery Management Plan, which describes the goals and methods for salmon management.

Nossaman’s Endangered Species Law & Policy blog focuses on news, events, and policies affecting endangered species issues in California and throughout the United States. Topics include listing and critical habitat decisions, conservation and recovery planning, inter-agency consultation, and related developments in law, policy, and science. We also inform readers about regulatory and legislative developments, as well as key court decisions.

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