Water wars

By

Lisa Duchene, SeafoodSource contributing editor

Published on
August 2, 2010

Paul Johnson won't let go of California's king salmon fishery without a fight — but the odds are working against him. The president and owner of Monterey Fish Market in Berkeley and on San Francisco's Pier 33 explains: "[California king salmon] is part of our whole social fabric — an icon, making that connection between the ocean, the rivers, the mountains and the people."

From the early 1990s to 2007, when California kings, also known as the fall run of chinook salmon, migrated from the Pacific to their spawning grounds in the Sacramento River Delta, the fishery off the Northern California and Oregon coasts thrived. King salmon drove sales at seafood markets and restaurants across the region.

When the fishery collapsed and managers canceled the 2008 and 2009 seasons, the most severe salmon restrictions in West Coast history, local coastal economies lost 1,823 jobs and $118.4 million in income compared to the 2004 and 2005 seasons, according to Jeffrey Michael, director of the Business Forecasting Center at University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif. Monterey Fish Market's profits took a 35 to 40 percent hit, says Johnson.

This year, there will be an abbreviated California salmon season July 1 to 4 and 8 to 11. Along the Northern California coast, in addition to those eight days, fishermen will have a chinook quota of 18,000 fish for the final two weeks of this month and 9,375 fish in August.

To read the rest of the story on how California king salmon is losing political and environmental battles, click here. Written by SeaFood Business and SeafoodSource Contributing Editor Lisa Duchene, the story ran in the July issue of SeaFood Business magazine.

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