Fisheries Biologists Present California’s Ocean Salmon Forecast for 2021

Chinook salmon from the commercial fishery
Measuring an adipose fin-clipped Chinook salmon taken in the commercial fishery.
CDFW photo by G. Ghrist

At the annual Salmon Information Meeting held virtually today, state and federal fishery scientists presented estimates of catch in 2020 fisheries and spawner returns to rivers and hatcheries, as well as the expected salmon abundance for the upcoming fishing season.

The 2021 ocean abundance projection for Sacramento River fall Chinook, a main salmon stock harvested in California waters, is 271,000 adult salmon, which is about 200,000 lower than the 2020 forecast. The Klamath River fall Chinook abundance forecast of 181,500 adult salmon is slightly higher than the 2020 forecast but still significantly lower than the long-term average and will likely result in restricted fishing opportunity in the areas north of Pt. Arena.

Fishery sampler extracting tag from Chinook salmon
Sampler Nadia El Adli removing the snout of an adipose fin-clipped Chinook salmon to recover the coded-wire tag.
CDFW photo by G. Ghrist

“Klamath River fall Chinook abundance forecasts and spawner returns have been low over the last few years. Fisheries were limited on the northern sections of the California coast last year to reduce impacts on this stock, and that will likely be the case again this year” said Kandice Morgenstern, an environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Ocean Salmon Project. “Furthermore, with a reduced abundance forecast for Sacramento River fall Chinook, we could be looking at reduced fishing elsewhere along the coast, as well.”

Recreational anglers and commercial salmon trollers at the meeting provided comments and voiced concerns to a panel of fishery managers, scientists, and industry representatives. Stakeholder input will be taken into consideration when developing three alternatives for this season during the virtual Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) meeting, which will be held March 2-5 and 8-11, 2021. Final regulations will be adopted at the April 6-9 and 12-15, 2021 virtual PFMC meeting. Meeting details and ways to attend can be found on the PFMC website.

To access materials and information presented at today’s meeting or to learn more about the salmon season setting process, visit the Salmon Preseason Process web page. For general ocean salmon fishing information, visit the Ocean Salmon Project web page or call the ocean salmon hotline at (707) 576-3429.

post by Kandice Morgenstern, CDFW Environmental Scientist

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