California Chinook Return Nears Record Low
The number of chinook salmon returning to California's Central Valley reached a near-record low, dropping more than 88 percent to 90,000 adult salmon in 2007, according to a report in yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle.
It is the second time in 35 years that the Central Valley has not met the Pacific Fishery Management Councilâ??s conservation goal of 122,000 to 180,000 returning fish.
The population was at an all-time high five years ago, reaching 804,000, but dropped to 277,000 by 2006.
In addition, only about 2,000 2-year-old juvenile chinooks returned, the lowest number ever counted. On average, 4,000 juveniles return each year.
Some scientists believe that the drop could be related to changes in the ocean linked to global warming. The collapse could lead to severe restrictions on West Coast salmon fishing this year.