The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) has produced three options for ocean salmon seasons beginning May 16, 2024. Two of the three alternatives would authorize short ocean salmon season dates and establish small harvest limits for commercial and sport fishing off California in 2024. The third alternative would be to close the ocean fisheries off California for a second consecutive year. The alternatives were approved by the PFMC for public review on Monday.

In response to several years of drought over the past decade, key California salmon target stocks are forecast to have 2024 abundance levels that, while higher than last year, are well below average. The 2024 stock abundance forecast for Sacramento River Fall Chinook, often the most abundant in the ocean fishery, is 213,600 adults. Meanwhile, abundance of Klamath River Fall Chinook is forecast at 180,700 adults. At this level of abundance, the Pacific Coast Salmon Fishery Management Plan authorizes only low levels of fishing on these stocks. It requires management to be designed to allow most of the adult population to return to the river to spawn.

Commercial fishing alternatives propose a limited number of small quota fisheries and would require vessel-based weekly trip limits that would apply in each open period. In-season action would be taken to close remaining season dates if total catch is expected to reach the harvest limit.

Recreational fishing alternatives would authorize up to seven short open fishing periods ranging from four to six days in length beginning in June and running through October. Scheduled dates would not be guaranteed and would be subject to two different statewide harvest guidelines. If the total sport catch reaches the limit before September, the remaining dates before September will be canceled. Similarly, if total sport catch reaches the limit for dates scheduled in the months of September and October, the remaining dates would be canceled.

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