Oregon closes salmon fishery after Chinook die-off

The Oregon Department of Wildlife has initiated a total closure of salmon fishing on the state’s North Coast due to a die-off of fall Chinook salmon caused by a parasite, according to The Statesman Journal.

Some two hundred Chinook have been wiped out in the Wilson River by the parasite cryptoba, which was also found in dead salmon in the Nestucca, Trask, and Kilchis river basins. The majority of the salmon were killed before they had the opportunity to spawn. Though the parasite is deadly to fish, it poses no risk to humans.

“We need to protect the remaining spawners to help provide for future runs of fall Chinook on the North Coast,” Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife District Fish Biologist Robert Bradley said.

Bradley posited that the dry weather seen this year in Oregon is at least partially responsible. Because the salmon have been swimming at low water levels, leeches which carry cryptoba have had an easier time affixing themselves to a larger number of fish.

“This scale of die-off is really unheard of. This parasite typically doesn’t escalate to this level," Bradley said. “We've seen [it] happen in small tributaries in the past, but never in the mainstream of these rivers the way we’ve seen this year.”

According to Bradley, time will tell what effect the die-off will have on the fishery.

The closure was put into effect on 13 December and will continue to the end of the year. Due to existing restrictions, wild salmon cannot be harvested in January, so the closure will remain in effect into 2020.

Salmon fishing is closed in the Necanicum River basin, Nehalem Bay and river, Tillamook Bay and rivers, and Nestucca Bay and river.

Photo courtesy of Bill Perry/Shutterstock


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