Proposed quotas point to strong commercial salmon season

Southern Oregon's commercial trolling fleet is poised to have a robust chinook salmon season this year, a stark rebound from a closed summer season just five years ago.

Strong showings of chinook bound for the rivers of Southern Oregon and Northern California has federal fish managers ready to craft summer commercial seasons that will join recreational seasons that sport light fishing restrictions.

Three options on the table for the commercial ocean chinook season have quotas ranging from a high of 9,000 chinook to a low of 5,500 chinook destined for the ports of Brookings, Gold Beach and Port Orford beginning in June.

The higher quota option "almost doubles the quota from last year," says Eric Schindler, project leader for the ocean salmon management for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. "The commercial (season) is looking pretty good."

The Pacific Fishery Management Council earlier this week crafted three options for the commercial fleet fishing the Oregon half of the Klamath Management Zone, the waters between Humbug Mountain near Port Orford and Horse Mountain in Northern California.

Salmon here are largely managed based on the abundance of fish returning to California's Klamath and Sacramento rivers, both of which have had strong presences last year and this year in the ocean.

Under the most liberal option, the commercial fleet for Brookings, Gold Beach and Port Orford will have a 4,000 chinook quota for June, a 3,000 chinook quota for July and a 2,000 chinook quota for August, according to the PFMC.

The council, which advises the U.S. Department of Commerce on ocean fishing seasons, is in the midst of gathering public comment on the alternatives. That includes a public hearing set for 7 p.m. on Monday, March 25, at the Red Lion Hotel, 1313 N. Bayshore Drive, Coos Bay.

After public comment, the council will convene April 5-11 in Portland to set the seasons, which must be approved by the Department of Commerce before they begin.

— Mark Freeman

Read more in the Mail Tribune this weekend.

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