Ocean fish seasons set Wednesday more liberal

Southern Oregon ocean anglers will see a long and largely restriction-free chinook season but no coho fishing in the ocean here this year under seasons adopted late Wednesday by federal fish managers.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council set seasons for sport and commercial fishing for this year off the Oregon, Washington and California coasts that should provide robust fishing compared to previous years.

For Southern Oregon that means an ocean chinook season that starts May 14 and runs through the Labor Day weekend with no mid-season closure or quota, according to PFMC documents obtained Thursday.

But the season calls for no fishing for hatchery or wild coho south of Humbug Mountain near Port Orford. Coho returning to Southern Oregon streams remain listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.

However, waters north of Humbug Mountain, which includes the popular fishing port of Charleston, will have separate seasons on hatchery and wild coho.

It marks the first time since 1993 that a wild coho fishery will be held off the Oregon Coast," said Eric Schindler, supervising biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Marine Resources Program.

The lengthy chinook season off the Southern Oregon Coast was largely the result of improved returns to the Klamath and Sacramento rivers in Northern California.

Low returns to those rivers, especially the Sacramento, has triggered shutdowns in recent years of ocean commercial fisheries and cutbacks in recreational fisheries here to protect these chinook that mill in the ocean along with Southern Oregon coastal stocks.

The council set the seasons during its meetings in Milbrae, Calif.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at mfreeman@mailtribune.com.

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