California’s Ocean Salmon Fishery Faces Complete Closure for 2023

Recent projections show chinook salmon numbers off California might have hit historic lows.
Jim Hendricks

Based on a unanimous vote of the federal Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC), California’s commercial and recreational ocean salmon season faces a complete closure for the 2023 season. The decision was based on recent projections indicating that king (aka chinook) salmon populations in the ocean waters off California have reached historic lows.

With the PFMC recommendation, the National Marine Fisheries Service will likely take regulatory action to enact the closure, effective in mid-May. In addition, the California Fish and Game Commission is expected to follow suit and adopt a closure of inland salmon fisheries at around the same time.

“This decision, while difficult, is intended to allow salmon to recover in order to provide future fishing opportunities,” said Charlton Bonham, director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“The state is committed to ensuring long-term survival of our salmon runs and supporting our struggling fishing communities,” Bonham added in reference to California businesses that depend on salmon sport and commercial fishing.

In recent years, California has been plagued by a prolonged and historic drought, severe wildfires and associated impacts to rivers that provide salmon spawning and rearing habitat. In addition, harmful algal blooms and ocean forage shifts have contributed to some of the lowest stock abundance forecasts on record for Sacramento River Fall Chinook and Klamath River Fall Chinook. Low ocean abundance forecasts, coupled with low 2022 returns, led the PFMC to recommend the full closure.

On the good news side of the salmon equation, patterns indicate that salmon returning three years from now will benefit from the ample precipitation California has experienced this year.

“We deeply appreciate the fishing community in California voicing support for this serious step to help these stocks recover,” said Bonham. For more information regarding the PFMC actions, visit

The post California’s Ocean Salmon Fishery Faces Complete Closure for 2023 appeared first on Salt Water Sportsman.

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