California salmon may be on a comeback
October 17, 2011
• Industry sees early signs of recovery
• ‘We’ve got many of our salmon industry jobs back this year’
Federal salmon rebuilding efforts in the Central Valley are starting to succeed in California, says the Golden Gate Salmon Association, citing early indicators of rebounding fall chinook salmon numbers.
Positive signs this year include:
• Good salmon returns to the Mokelumne River, with some daily counts at or near all-time records. This is largely due to a ten-day closure of Delta diversion gates from Oct. 4-14, the association claims. When open, the gates have historically interfered with salmon migration, it says.
• Salmon counts in the Feather River, the Sacramento River’s largest tributary, have already surpassed last year.
• The state’s Delta smelt fall trawl survey showed an increase in the smelt population, “indicating that better water management may have slowed or halted the Delta-estuary ecosystem’s rapid decline,” the association says.
“In the middle of the economic recession facing the whole nation, we’ve got many of our salmon industry jobs back this year, and for that we’re thankful this year,” says Golden Gate Salmon Association President Victor Gonella.
Although there have been better salmon runs this year, the Petaluma-based group says, there is still a long way to go before the industry gets back to peak times of several years ago.
The salmon industry is coming off three years of fishing closures. The fishermen argue that the closures were due to over-diversion of Delta water to agribusiness in the San Joaquin Valley and other water users.
In the Mokelumne River, managers have counted more than 3,300 chinook at the Woodbridge Dam, up from 946 in 2010. Since counting began in the Feather River on Sept. 1, salmon numbers have topped the 45,000 counted for all of 2010. By comparison, in 2008 and 2009 the count came in at about 6,000 and 5,000 respectively.