Salmon blog

Council Announces 2016 Salmon Seasons

Thursday, April 14th, 2016


VANCOUVER, Wa. – The Pacific Fishery Management Council today adopted ocean salmon seasons that provide recreational and commercial opportunities coastwide. The adopted salmon fisheries off the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington achieve conservation goals for a multitude of individual salmon stocks and provide for freshwater fisheries.

The recommendation will be forwarded to the National Marine Fisheries Service for approval by May 1, 2016.

“It has been difficult for the Council, its advisors, fishery stakeholders and the public to balance fishing opportunities on harvestable Sacramento and Columbia River fall Chinook stocks with the severe conservation needs we are facing with many coho stocks and Sacramento River winter Chinook,” said Acting Council Executive Director Chuck Tracy. “But the Council has recommended commercial and recreational ocean salmon seasons in Washington, Oregon, and California this year that provide important protections for stocks of concern.”

“We have made the tough decisions and implemented fishery restrictions to give salmon stocks their best chance of rebounding from the effects of the drought and El Niño,” said Council Vice-Chair Herb Pollard.

Washington and Northern Oregon (North of Cape Falcon)

Fisheries north of Cape Falcon (near Nehalem in northern Oregon) depend largely on Columbia River Chinook and coho stocks. Columbia River fall Chinook returns are expected to return at high levels, and Columbia River coho are expected to return at reduced but moderate levels in 2016. However, coastal Washington and Puget Sound coho abundance is dramatically reduced from recent years, and some wild coho stocks are expected to return at very low levels. In response, the Council has been challenged with shaping fisheries to provide access to relatively abundant Chinook stocks while protecting natural coho populations.

North of Cape Falcon, there is an overall non-Indian total allowable catch of 70,000 Chinook coastwide (compared to 131,000 last year) and 18,900 marked hatchery coho in the area off the Columbia River (compared to 170,000 last year).

Recreational Fisheries

The recreational fishery north of Cape Falcon does not include a mark-selective Chinook season this year, but opens to all salmon on July 1 and ends in late August or when Chinook or coho quotas are reached. Recreational fisheries in all port areas will have access to 35,000 Chinook (compared to over 50,000 Chinook last year), but coho retention is only allowed in ocean areas off the Columbia River with a modest quota of 18,900 (compared to 150,800 last year). For details, please see the season descriptions on the Council website at

Commercial Fisheries

Tribal and non-Indian ocean commercial fisheries are designed to provide harvest opportunity on strong Chinook returns primarily destined for the Columbia River while avoiding coho stocks of concern. Coho retention is prohibited in all commercial fisheries north of Cape Falcon this year.

Non-Indian ocean commercial fisheries north of Cape Falcon include traditional, but reduced, Chinook seasons in the spring (May-June) and summer (July-August), and any coho caught in the commercial fishery must be released. The Chinook quota of 19,100 in the spring is approximately half of the 2015 quota, while the summer season Chinook quota is similar to last year at 23,400 Chinook.

Tribal ocean Chinook fisheries north of Cape Falcon are reduced from 2015 levels with a quota of 40,000 fish (compared to 60,000 last year).

California and Oregon South of Cape Falcon, Oregon

An expected abundance of roughly 300,000 Sacramento River fall Chinook (compared to 650,000 last year), combined with modest coho expectations for the Columbia River, will support recreational and commercial opportunities for ocean salmon fisheries off Oregon and much of California. The 2015 Columbia River coho abundance forecast in 2016 is over 500,000 fish (compared to over 800,000 last year) and will allow for recreational coho opportunities this summer.

The Klamath River fall Chinook abundance forecast for 2016 is substantially lower than recent years and the primary reason for fishery constraints in Oregon and California. Long running drought conditions, coupled with suboptimal ocean conditions, have raised serious concerns for Sacramento River winter Chinook salmon, which are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act and have experienced very low survival as juveniles in 2014 and 2015. Fisheries south of Point Arena, California, particularly recreational fisheries in the greater Monterey Bay region, will continue to experience late-season reductions to minimize interactions with winter Chinook.

Recreational Fisheries

Recreational fisheries in California and southern Oregon are primarily focused on Chinook salmon and include openings in May, June, July, August, and the Labor Day weekend, in the Brookings/ Crescent City/Eureka area. Fisheries further south all opened on April 2 and will continue through November 13 in the Fort Bragg area, through October 31 in the San Francisco area, through July 15 from Pigeon Point to Point Sur, and through May 31 south of Point Sur.

Recreational fisheries off the central Oregon coast will allow Chinook retention from March 15 through October 31. Coho fisheries consist of a 26,000 mark-selective coho quota fishery in mid-summer from Cape Falcon to the Oregon/California border (compared to 55,000 last year) and a 7,500 non-mark selective coho quota fishery in September, open from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain (compared to 12,500 last year).

Commercial Fisheries

Commercial fisheries from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain, Oregon opened on April 8 and will run through October 31 with intermittent closures to reduce impacts on Klamath fall Chinook. Fisheries in the Humbug Mountain-to-California-border area will be open April 8 through May, with Chinook quota fisheries in June (720) and July (200). Fisheries from the California border to Humboldt South Jetty will open on September 9 with a 1,000 Chinook quota (compared to 3,000 last year).

Between Horse Mountain and Point Arena (in the Fort Bragg area), commercial Chinook salmon fisheries will be open June 13 to 30, August 3 to 27, and September 1 to 30.

In the area from Point Arena to Pigeon Point (San Francisco), the season will be open May 6 to 31, June 13 to 30, August 3 to 28, and during the month of September. From Pigeon Point to the Mexico border (Monterey), the Chinook season will be open in May and June. There will also be a season from Point Reyes to Point San Pedro, open October 3 to 7 and 10 to 14.

Management Process

The Council developed the management measures after several weeks spent reviewing three season alternatives. The review process included input by Federal and state fishery scientists and fishing industry members; public testimony, and three public hearings in coastal communities. The Council received additional scientific information and took public testimony before taking final action. The decision will be forwarded to the National Marine Fisheries Service for approval and implementation.

In addition, the coastal states will decide on compatible freshwater fishery regulations at their respective Commission hearings.

Council Role

The Pacific Fishery Management Council is one of eight regional fishery management councils established by the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 for the purpose of managing fisheries 3-200 miles offshore of the United States of America coastline. The Pacific Council recommends management measures for fisheries off the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington.



Sam Rauch, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs of NOAA Fisheries, Visits Council on Anniversary of MSA

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

Sam Rauch, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs of NOAA Fisheries, visited the Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting today to observe the 40th anniversary of Federal fisheries management under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and to discuss ongoing programs of National Marine Fisheries Service. The Magnuson-Stevens Act, or MSA, is the foundation of fisheries management in the United States, and was enacted on April 13, 1976. The MSA created eight Regional Fishery Management Councils that support transparent regional management of the nation’s fisheries.

“The strength of the MSA is that it created the Council system, which has worked extraordinarily well in terms of making sure that decisions are transparent, are science-based and have stakeholder input,” said Rauch. “It allows us to make deliberative decisions together, as opposed to in a black box. It is what has built the success that we have enjoyed. In the last few years we have consistently had either record or near-record landings, nationally. At the same time, we have also made significant strides in reducing the number of stocks that are on the overfished list, and that are subject to overfishing. Those continue to be at either all-time lows or near all-time lows. [The status of fish stocks] is something the Councils should be proud of, because this is where the hard work happens to make all that possible. The regional Councils are the bodies that make all the tough decisions.”

Rauch went on to discuss NOAA’s draft National Bycatch Reduction Strategy. The proposal continues the nation’s momentum on reducing bycatch—when fishermen catch fish they don’t want, can’t keep, or aren’t allowed to keep. Bycatch can also occur when fishing gear harms or kills marine mammals, seabirds, corals, sponges, sea turtles, or protected fish. NOAA Fisheries is accepting public comment on the draft strategy through June 3.[1]

Rauch also discussed the President’s task force on illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing. A new NOAA program beginning this fall will track the origin of certain at-risk stocks imported into the United States, leading to a safer and higher quality seafood product for consumers.

Recently, a peer-reviewed study determined that the U.S. fisheries management system meets U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization standards for sustainable fishing. “U.S. fisheries are the best managed in the world,” said Rauch.



April 2016 Council Meeting Internet Live Stream

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

The April 2016 Council meeting will be live‐streamed on the internet during the following hours:

  • Saturday, April 9, 2016:  8:00 AM Pacific Time, ending at approximately 3:00 PM PT  (at approximately 3:00 PM PT, there will be a Closed Executive Session)
  • Sunday, April 10, 2016 through Thursday, April 14, 2016:  8:00 AM Pacific Time, ending daily at approximately 6:00 PM PT or when business for the day is complete

Only the audio portion and presentations displayed on the screen at the Council meeting will be broadcast. The audio portion is listen‐only; you will be unable to speak to the Council via the broadcast.

For agenda item topics, please see the April 2016 agenda.

Join the meeting in “listen-only” mode

Join the meeting in “listen-only” mode by visiting this link:

  2. Enter the Webinar ID – The April 9-14, 2016 Webinar ID is: 105-442-547
  3. Please enter your email address (required)

Participants can use their computer’s speakers (VoIP) or telephone. (See the PFMC GoToMeeting Audio Diagram for best practices).  Since this is a “listen only” broadcast, you may use your computer speakers or headset to listen.

If you do not have a headset or computer speakers, you may use your telephone for the audio portion of the meeting by dialing this TOLL number 1-646-307-1720; phone audio access code 391-457-815 (not a toll-free number); then enter the audio pin shown after joining the webinar. The webinar is broadcast in “listen only” mode.

Technical Information

System Requirements

  • PC-based attendees: Required: Windows® 7, Vista, or XP
  • Mac®-based attendees: Required: Mac OS® X 10.5 or newer
  • Mobile attendees: Required: iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phone or Android tablet (See the GoToMeeting Webinar Apps)

You may send an email to Mr. Kris Kleinschmidt for technical assistance.

MP3 Audio Files

Approximately four business days after the meeting has ended, you may visit the “Past Meetings” webpage where you will find links to the MP3 and WAV files.


April 2016 Briefing Book Available Online

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

The Briefing Book for the April 2016 Council meeting has been posted to the Council’s website on the “April 2016 Briefing Book” webpage. The Briefing Book contains “situation summaries” (brief summaries that provide background for each agenda item), reports and materials for each agenda item, and written public comment. Advisory body and committee agendas and memos are also available.


Salmon Preseason Report II, Including Public Hearing Schedule Available on Council’s Website

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

Preseason Report II:  Proposed Alternatives and Environmental Assessment Part 2 for 2016 Ocean Salmon Fishery Regulations

The document Preseason Report II: Proposed Alternatives and Environmental Assessment Part 2 for 2016 Ocean Salmon Fishery Regulations; Regulation Identifier Number 0648-BF56 has been posted to the Council’s website. Please visit the 2016 Preseason Report II webpage to view and download the document.

Public Comment Opportunities on the Proposed Management Alternatives

The Council solicits public comments on the proposed management Alternatives in preparation for adopting final management recommendations at its April meeting. Oral and written comments on the proposed management Alternatives may be presented at the public hearings listed below (you may also see the “Salmon Public Hearings” notice on our website):

Monday, March 28, 2016
Chateau Westport
Beach Room
710 W Hancock
Westport, WA 98595
Driving Directions

Monday, March 28, 2016
Red Lion Hotel
South Umpqua Room
1313 N Bayshore Drive
Coos Bay, OR 97420
Driving Directions

Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Motel 6
Convention Room
400 S. Main St.
Fort Bragg, CA 95437
Driving Directions

Additional comment will be accepted during the April Council meeting. Written comments received at the Council office by 11:59 PM, Sunday, April 3, 2016 will be copied and distributed to all Council members.

For further information regarding the salmon management documents, please contact: Mr. Mike Burner at 503-820-2414 or toll free 1-866-806-7204, ext. 414.


March 2016 Council Decision Summary Document Online

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

The Pacific Fishery Management Council met March 9-14, 2016 in Sacramento, California. The March 2016 Council Meeting Decision Summary Document contains the highlights of significant decisions made at that meeting. Results of agenda items that do not reach a level of highlight significance are typically not described in the Decision Summary Document.


April 8-14, 2016 Council Meeting Notice and Agenda

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

The Pacific Fishery Management Council and its advisory bodies will meet April 8‐14, 2016 in Vancouver, Washington, USA to address issues related to salmon, groundfish, coastal pelagic species, enforcement matters, and habitat matters.

Please visit the “Current Council Meeting” webpage for meeting and agenda details.


Council Chooses Options for 2016 Salmon Season

Monday, March 14th, 2016

Sacramento, California – The Pacific Fishery Management Council yesterday adopted three public review alternatives for the 2016 salmon season off the West Coast of the United States. The Council will select a final alternative at their next meeting in Vancouver, Washington on April 9-14. Detailed information about season starting dates, areas open, and catch limits for all three alternatives are available on the Council’s website at “The mix of salmon runs this year is unusual,” said outgoing Executive Director Donald McIsaac. “In the north, the return of fall Chinook to the Columbia River is forecast to be exceptionally high again, but expectations for wild coho runs to the Washington Coast and Puget Sound areas can only be described as disastrous. In the south, the Sacramento River fall Chinook are healthy, but Klamath River fall Chinook are so poor that the Council’s policy calls for a low ‘de minimis’ catch in ocean fisheries.” “This will be a challenging year for salmon fisheries. Several key stocks are less abundant than usual due to environmental conditions like the California drought and El Niño, which have affected ocean abundance for some stocks. However, there are alternatives that provide opportunities for both commercial and recreational salmon fishing coastwide,” said Council Vice-Chair Herb Pollard.

Northern Oregon and Washington (north of Cape Falcon)

Sport season alternatives

Ocean sport fishery options north of Cape Falcon in Oregon and off the Washington coast are focused on Chinook salmon this year, with mark-selective Chinook fishing alternatives for June; and July-August fisheries, which are not mark-selective. Chinook recreational quotas range from 30,000 to 58,600. For coho, one alternative allows modest coastwide opportunity for 37,800 hatchery coho in July and August. One alternative permits limited coho fishing only in the Columbia River area between Cape Falcon and Leadbetter Point, with a coho quota of 14,700 hatchery coho that starts in late June and runs into September. One alternative is closed to all non-Indian recreational and commercial fishing north of Cape Falcon in response to concerns over extremely low forecasts. In a year like this, it is appropriate to see the effects of complete protection for key Washington coastal and Puget Sound wild coho stocks.

Commercial season options

Non-Indian ocean commercial fishery alternatives north of Cape Falcon include traditional Chinook seasons between May and September. Chinook quotas for all areas and times range from 30,000 to 56,000, compared to 67,000 in 2015. Only one commercial fishery alternative allows retention of coho, with a quota of 7,200 marked coho (compared to 19,200 in 2015).

Tribal ocean fisheries north of Cape Falcon

Alternative Chinook and coho quotas for tribal ocean fisheries range from quotas of 30,000 to 50,000 for Chinook salmon, while coho quotas range from 0 to 40,000. Seasons open May 1 and run through August or September 15. The zero coho quota alternative for the tribal ocean fishery reflects concern over the very low forecasts for key Washington coastal and Puget Sound wild coho stocks.

 California and southern Oregon (south of Cape Falcon) 

Sport season options

California ocean sport fishing alternatives provide seasons that range from fairly continuous traditional seasons to more conservative alternatives with mid-season closures or shortened seasons to protect Klamath River fall Chinook or Sacramento River winter Chinook.

Chinook directed Klamath Management Zone alternatives (Humbug Mt., Oregon to Horse Mt., California) generally open in May and run through Labor Day (except that one alternative closes August 31), and all alternatives have closed periods to reduce impacts on Klamath River fall Chinook.

Alternatives for Oregon Chinook fishing in the Tillamook, Newport, and Coos Bay areas all open March 15 and run either continuously through October 31 or are closed May through August.

Oregon ocean recreational alternatives include mark-selective coho fishing seasons starting in June or July and run through July or into early August in the area between Cape Falcon and the Oregon/California border. Quotas range from 15,000 to 30,000 marked coho. In addition, non-mark-selective fisheries are proposed for the area between Cape Falcon and Humbug Mt. in September with quotas ranging from 6,000 to 10,000 coho.

Commercial season options

From the north, commercial Chinook salmon season alternatives in the Tillamook, Newport, and Coos Bay area open April 8 and run through September or October but have several closed periods.

Oregon season alternatives in the Brookings area of the Klamath Management Zone are generally open for Chinook most of April and May, and one alternative includes small quota fisheries in June, July, and August.

California commercial season alternatives in the Klamath Management Zone north of the Humboldt South Jetty include two small quota (3,000 and 1,000) fisheries in September, and one alternative with no fishing.

Commercial season alternatives south of the Klamath Management Zone are generally closed in July to protect Klamath fall Chinook. Open periods are all or part of May, and depending on the area, all or parts of June, August, and September, with fewer open periods to the south to protect Sacramento River winter Chinook.

Management Process

Public hearings to receive input on the options are scheduled for March 28 in Westport, Washington and Coos Bay, Oregon; and for March 29 in Fort Bragg, California. The Council will consult with scientists, hear public comment, and revise preliminary decisions until it chooses a final option at its meeting April 9-14 in Vancouver, Washington.

At its April meeting in Vancouver, the Council will narrow these options to a single season recommendation to be forwarded to National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for their final approval before May 1.

All Council meetings are open to the public.

Council Role

The Pacific Fishery Management Council is one of eight regional fishery management councils established by the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 for the purpose of managing fisheries 3-200 miles offshore of the United States of America coastline. The Pacific Council recommends management measures for fisheries off the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington.



On the Web ·

Draft Alternative for 2016 salmon management

Final Alternatives and analyses of the biological and socioeconomic impacts will be posted on the Council web page in the near future.

Description of 2016 salmon management process

Fact sheet: Salmon

Fact sheet: Common Terms Used in Salmon Management


Council-Adopted Salmon Management Measures (Tables) for Public Review

Monday, March 14th, 2016

DRAFT Council-Adopted Salmon Management Measures (Tables) for Public Review

The following DRAFT salmon management measure tables were adopted by the Council for public review at their March 2016 meeting.  Please keep in mind the tables are DRAFT until published in Preseason Report II.  (tentatively scheduled for March 23).



Thursday, March 10th, 2016

Cautionary Note — These preliminary motions do not represent the final official administrative record.  The motions and amendments contained in this blog are as projected on the screen at the Council meeting at the time of the Council vote and often use expedited language and references without the benefit of any final editing or proofing.  They may use short-hand language or abbreviations that may not be clear without the context of verbal comments and clarifications made during their development at the meeting, or may contain inadvertent transposition errors.  They have not been approved by the Council to represent the final official record of Council action.  The final official record will be posted on the Council website after the Council approves the full meeting record at a future Council meeting.