Feds could restrict West Coast salmon fishing to help orcas

The Associated Press

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.

Restrictions

The restrictions would include reducing fishing quotas north of Cape Falcon in Oregon; delaying the start of the ocean commercial troll fishery between Cape Falcon and Monterey Bay; and closing parts of the Columbia River and Grays Harbor in Washington and the Klamath River and Monterey Bay to fishing much of the year.

If NOAA Fisheries adopts the plan as recommended by the Pacific Fishery Management Council, it would be one of the first times a federal agency has restricted hunting or fishing one species to benefit a predator that relies on it.

There are 75 orcas in the three pods that make up the Southern Resident orca population.

The orcas have in recent years been at their lowest numbers since the 1970s, when hundreds were captured — and more than 50 were kept — for aquarium display.

Scientists warn the population is on the brink of extinction.

More in News

Gamma variant infections increasing statewide

Vaccination clinics set on North Olympic Peninsula

Jefferson County masking mandate expected to end June 30

State requirements for unvaccinated residents to mask believed to continue

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Volunteers bore holes and prepare the site on Friday for the beginning of a community build of the Generation II Dream Playground, scheduled to begin on Tuesday, at Erickson Playfield in Port Angeles.
Community build begins Tuesday

Volunteers to create Dream Playground II

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
The site of a proposed 106-room hotel being planned by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe near the downtown Port Angeles waterfront sits idle on Friday as the tribe works with the city on infrastructure and environmental issues.
More delay for Elwha Hotel

Hurdles mount for $25 million project

Pictured, from left to right, are Cindy Thomas, Nancy King, Sarah Abbitt and Tabby Whitaker.
Jim’s Pharmacy names charity of the month

Pictured, from left to right, are Cindy Thomas, Nancy King, Sarah Abbitt… Continue reading

Lyn Muench, grant writer for the Dungeness River Audubon Center’s “Inspire Wonder” capital campaign, shows Rep. Steve Tharinger details of River Center construction. Photo by Margi Palmer
Tharinger tours river center expansion project

Project expected to be completed in fall

US Highway 101 work starting Monday

Maintenance crews from the Department of Transportation will repair pavement… Continue reading

Bentinck range operations scheduled

The Royal Canadian Navy has announced that the land-based… Continue reading

Most Read