Commercial fishermen on south coast fear season could be cut short

Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Coos Bay, March 27, 2017. (SBG photo)

COOS BAY, Ore. -- Commercial fishermen on the south coast say they’re worried this year’s fishing season could be cut short or even become obsolete.

According to the Pacific Fishery Management Council, salmon numbers are down the past couple of years and this year doesn't look to be much better.

"If the fish don't show, our season--salmon season--would be over and a lot of guys will make very little money,” said one fisherman of 42 years at a public meeting Monday night. “A lot of markets, restaurants won't have salmon."

The PFMC took public comment Monday in Coos Bay on proposals for the season and talked about the effect on the salmon fishery.

The council will adopt final management recommendations April 7.

"It's not necessarily doom and gloom on the recreational side,” said Oregon salmon commercial fisherman Jeff Reeves. “On the commercial side, we really don't know where we're at at this point. Some options would allow us no fishing south of Florence to speak of; others would maybe not be so bad north of the Florence south jetty. It's been quite a few years since we've had to draw a line in the Florence area."

Reeves says the commercial fleet already took a hit last year, grossing about $4 million, compared to nearly $14 million in 2013.

He says they've asked for a Disaster Declaration for the 2016 season from Governor Kate Brown, but says they have not received a response.

"In my opinion, it could be a disaster year,” added Reeves. “If a season is allowed where fishermen fish, we'll probably have to fish and then see if we're allowed to seek disaster assistance."

Comments will be accepted at the April council meeting in Sacramento.

More information:

PRESEASON REPORT II

PFMC Proposed Oregon Ocean Sport Salmon Alternative I - 2017

The Ocean Salmon Management Program

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