Senator McGuire, Assemblymember Wood request Governor declare Salmon Disaster

Friday, May 5, 2017

Sacramento, CA – California's iconic salmon fishery, and the thousands of families who depend on the fishery for their livelihood, are in crisis.

Due to an unprecedented collapse in California’s salmon population, this week, Senator Mike McGuire and Assemblymember Jim Wood sent a letter to Governor Jerry Brown requesting he declare a statewide Salmon Fishery Disaster. 

“The California salmon fishery is one of our state’s oldest and is one of the most iconic in America. Golden State salmon fishermen, many of whom also experienced unprecedented hardship during the crab season disaster in 2015-16, are now faced with the reality that the 2017 salmon season is projected to be one of the worst in state history due to deplorable environmental conditions,” Senator McGuire said. “We’re asking the Governor to declare a salmon season disaster and fishery failure – thousands of working families are in crisis and desperately need our help.”

The drought, poor ocean conditions and federal water management policies caused high mortality and very low survival of juvenile salmon resulting in low adult numbers and devastating closures for the 2017 salmon season. The proposed closures and minimal open seasons will have significant negative impacts on thousands of California residents, and their livelihoods are now at risk.  

“Drought, disease, and stream diversions have decimated the north coast salmon population,” said Assemblymember Jim Wood. “The hard working men and women who rely on these fish to support their families have been put in a terrible situation through no fault of their own. They deserve our support.”

Compounded by the terrible ocean conditions, the predicted adult salmon returns to the Klamath River are the lowest in history with 54,000 Klamath salmon predicted in the ocean down from 1.6 million in 2012. As a result of the unprecedented collapse of Klamath River salmon stocks, there will be no commercial or recreational fishing in the Klamath Management Zone in 2017 and the Klamath and Trinity River recreational salmon fisheries will be closed.

In addition, this year’s salmon failure will have devastating impacts on North Coast tribes. Tribal allocations are at an all-time low of just over 800 salmon, or less than one fish per ten tribal members. There will be no tribal commercial fishery this year and too few salmon to meet tribal subsistence needs.

The California salmon fishery is our state’s oldest fishery and supports one of the most iconic commercial, recreational and tribal fisheries in the nation. A decade ago, the fishery supported 23,000 jobs and $1.4 billion in economic activity, while providing important trade and tourism business annually. Landings by the commercial fleet dropped from 502,110 salmon in 2004 to 55,051 in 2016, an 89% decrease. The 2017 season is predicted to be worse than last year.

Senator McGuire and Assemblymember Wood’s letter to Governor Brown can be found here.