SAN FRANCISCO—The salmon fishing season has officially ended before it began. Yesterday, the National Marine Fishery service announced that salmon fishing was now banned along the entire West Coast, the first time it has taken such a step in 160 years. Fishermen have been bracing for the news for months, ever since a precipitous decline in the salmon population was discovered in the fall.
Immediately following the announcement, Carlos Gutierrez, the secretary of commerce, declared a commercial fishery disaster, which will allow Congress to appropriate money to fishermen who will suffer from the restriction. Many commercial fishermen off the coast of California, where the majority of chinook salmon are caught, say they count on the fish for at least two-thirds of their income.
When a much smaller-scale salmon run on the Klamath River in Oregon declined in 2006, Congress approved $60 million in aid for fishermen. Those checks, though, didn't start arriving until a few months ago.