Friday March 3, 2023

Los Angeles Times

California Chinook salmon populations have fallen to their lowest levels in years, according to new estimates released by state and federal scientists — a decline that could trigger a shutdown of the commercial and recreational fishing season along the coast.

“The salmon are struggling,” said Chuck Bonham, director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “And we have great concern about their future, knowing we are fully committed to rebuilding them and saving them.”

Bonham said the decline is part of a decades-long trend, and the past three years of record drought “only further stressed our salmon populations.”

The department said scientists estimated that the number of 3-year-old fall-run Chinook likely to return to the Sacramento River this year to spawn would be fewer than 170,000, one of the lowest forecasts in 15 years. They also estimated that fewer than 104,000 are likely to return to the Klamath River, the second-lowest estimate since 1997.

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