WA - Feds could restrict West Coast salmon fishing to help orcas
Federal officials are proposing to curtail nontribal salmon fishing along the West Coast in especially bad years to help the Northwest’s endangered orcas.
SEATTLE — Federal officials are proposing to curtail nontribal salmon fishing along the West Coast in especially bad years to help the Northwest’s endangered orcas.
NOAA Fisheries is taking public comment on the plan, which calls for restricting commercial and recreational salmon fishing when chinook salmon forecasts are especially low.
The endangered Southern Resident orcas, which spend much of their time in the waters between Washington state and British Columbia, depend heavily on depleted runs of fatty chinook.
Recent research has affirmed how important chinook are to the orcas year round, as they cruise the outer coast, and not just when they forage in Washington’s inland waters in the summertime.
The fishing restrictions would extend from Puget Sound in Washington to Monterey Bay in central California, and they would be triggered when fewer than 966,000 chinook are forecast to return to Northwest rivers.
The last time expected chinook returns were that low was in 2007.