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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 5, 2006

King salmon fishermen oppose restrictions

By Terence Chea
Associated Press

Bill Waterhouse joins more than 200 other sport and commercial fishermen and supporters at a rally in Sacramento, Calif., protesting proposed rules to protect the Chinook salmon fishery of the Klamath River. A decision is expected tomorrow or Friday.

RICH PEDRONCELLI | Associated Press

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SAN FRANCISCO Federal regulators are set to decide whether to impose severe restrictions on salmon fishing off Oregon and Northern California this season, a move that could lead to higher prices for consumers and economic hardship for hundreds of fishermen.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council is meeting this week in Sacramento, where members will hear testimony from biologists, fishermen and environmentalists before making a recommendation to the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The options range from partial fishery closures to a complete fishing ban on 700 miles of coastline from Point Sur south of Monterey to Cape Falcon in northern Oregon. The season usually runs from April through October.

The restrictions are intended to protect chinook salmon on Northern California's Klamath River, where water diversions for agriculture in recent years have led to dwindling numbers of spawning fish. Chinook salmon spend most of their lives in ocean, but they return to the rivers where they were born, to spawn before dying.

Yesterday, hundreds of commercial and recreational fishermen rallied in Sacramento to urge the council to allow at least some salmon trolling this season.

There's plenty of salmon in the ocean, and populations in the Sacramento and Columbia rivers are healthy. But there's no way to catch those salmon without killing Klamath fish because it's almost impossible to distinguish between salmon from different watersheds.

The 668,000 chinook salmon caught last year made up less than 1 percent of U.S. consumption. But chinook, or king salmon, is prized for its taste, texture and high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.