Overfishing in the Columbia Basin and along Washington Coast a Serious Threat to Salmon Stocks
By Will Jukes
Federal agencies filed an official notice on Wednesday that overfishing is affecting four Pacific Northwest salmon populations,
according to The Oregonian. The notice was filed in the National Register by the National Marine Fisheries Service, on behalf of the Secretary of Commerce. It requires the Pacific Fishery Management Council to ramp up efforts to reduce fishing to sustainable levels.
The affected fish stocks are: summer Chinook in the upper Columbia River Basin; fall Chinook around Willapa Bay; fall Chinook near Grays Harbor; and coho on the coast around the Hoh River. Also listed were North Pacific swordfish, which will require joint action from the PFMC and the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council.
The notice says that none of the areas mentioned are in “overfished condition”. No specific reason for issuing the notice is given, but several possible reasons are listed, including “overfishing is occurring…a stock is approaching an overfished condition, or when a rebuilding plan has not resulted in adequate progress toward ending overfishing and rebuilding affected fish stock.”
The warnings come during a busy year for the PFMC, who have been working hard to overhaul regulations in the Pacific Northwest. Their recent efforts have focused on keeping the whole ecosystem healthy, preserving forage fish so that populations higher up the food chain have enough to eat. Depending on the resources needed to secure salmon populations in the near term, that project may need to be put on hold. The PFMC has not issued an official response to the notice. However, they have updated their online salmon regulations guide as of September 10th.
The full text of the notice can be found here.