Central Valley Salmon Emergency Recommendations Released as California Fish and Game Commission Closes Salmon Fishing on Rivers

Scott Artis, Golden State Salmon Association, 925-550-9208, scott@goldenstatesalmon.org

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – California Fish and Game Commission unanimously adopted, on May 17, 2023, emergency regulations for Chinook salmon recreational fishing closures for the Klamath River, Trinity River, Eel River and Smith River due to federal salmon closure recommendations. The adoption of this closure included an exception for federally recognized Tribes.

Citing multiple causes including low flows that have led to a significant decline of California Chinook salmon stocks, and the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s recommended closure of 2023 California salmon fisheries in April, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) proposed temporary emergency salmon fishing closures and cited a need for emergency regulation at today’s California Fish and Game Commission meeting. CDFW reported to the Commission that salmon stocks in the West are in decline with 2023 Sacramento River fall Chinook and Klamath River fall Chinook ocean abundance forecasts at the 3rd lowest on record and early adult return data from spring Chinook in Mill, Deer and Butte creeks are extremely low.

“This latest closure of our inland waters salmon fishing is a devastating reminder that California’s poor water policy impacts real people, real families, real businesses, real communities, and a keystone species people and wildlife rely on. And it’s not going away until we enact real solutions,” said Scott Artis, Executive Director of Golden State Salmon Association (GSSA). “In response to the 2023 salmon season closure, Golden State Salmon Association has developed and released recommendations for action at the state level, which are focused on the cause of the current salmon collapse – lethally low river flows and high water temperatures.”

The Central Valley Salmon Emergency Recommendations released by GSSA call for the State Water Board to adopt and enforce specific, science-based and legally enforceable flow requirements for the Bay-Delta and its tributary salmon rivers, as well as requirements to ensure safe temperatures for salmon below Shasta Dam on the Sacramento River. The recommendations also call for the State to stop waiving flow requirements, stop issuing new Bay-Delta water rights, renegotiate antiquated water contracts, improve temperature conditions on the Feather River, and expand access to cold water habitat.

“Over the long-term, other actions will be required to restore fully healthy salmon runs. And to complement our state actions, we are also working on federal and hatchery recommendations to aid salmon recovery. In the short-term, however, we must stop killing salmon in Central Valley rivers through inadequate flow and temperature conditions,” said Artis. “Droughts have always caused some impacts on California salmon runs. However, salmon have survived droughts for millennia and remained abundant. The core of the crisis Central Valley salmon and the fishing economy face today is how we manage our water resources. This mismanagement has turned our rivers into death traps for salmon.”

Currently, California’s salmon industry is valued at $1.4 billion in economic activity and 23,000 jobs annually in a normal season, and contributes approximately $700 million to the economy and supports more than 10,000 jobs in Oregon. Industry workers benefiting from Central Valley salmon stretch from Santa Barbara to northern Oregon. This includes commercial fishermen and women, recreational fishermen and women (fresh and salt water), fish processors, marinas, coastal communities, equipment manufacturers, the hotel and food industry, tribes, and others.

Golden State Salmon Association’s Central Valley Salmon Emergency Recommendations: Actions Needed at the State Level can be downloaded at: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/15IUWKJm67yKaVi9M-E43t9uXAupA86me?usp=sharing

Golden State Salmon Association (www.goldenstatesalmon.org) is a coalition of salmon advocates that includes commercial and recreational salmon fishermen and women, businesses, restaurants, a native tribe, environmentalists, elected officials, families and communities that rely on salmon. GSSA’s mission is to restore California salmon for their economic, recreational, commercial, environmental, cultural and health values.