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Environment, Energy and Transportation

Poor Conditions In The Klamath River Trigger Fishery Closures

chinook salmon - USFWS.jpg
USFWS
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Chinook salmon

Federal fishery managers are recommending that Chinook salmon fisheries along 200 miles of Oregon and California coast be closed or severely restricted due to conditions in the Klamath River.

The restrictions would extend through the Klamath Basin Zone, which runs between Coos Bay, Oregon, and Fort Bragg, California.

For years, Chinook salmon in the Klamath River have been hit with deadly outbreaks of a parasite called C. Shasta. These infections have worsened with rising water temperatures and low water levels.

Glen Spain is with the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations. He says that the spike of disease is bad news for future salmon runs.

“C.Shasta levels are going up through the roof, and we may have another year where the very few salmon that are coming back and will lay their eggs, those eggs will die too,” said Spain. “So we may be losing most of this year class to another bout of disease caused by poor water quality and the blockages created by the dams.”

Salmon are a crucial revenue source for fishermen in coastal communities, many of whom are likely to be put out of work for the season. Restrictions on salmon fishing have been tightening for years, resulting in more economic loss each year.

“What it means is lost jobs, lost economic opportunity, lost income for hundreds if not thousands of people up and down the coast that nearly depend for their livelihoods on those fish being there,” says Spain. “The fish are gone.”

The restrictions are expected to go into effect in the next few weeks, once the decision is finalized by the Secretary of Commerce.