The recreational and commercial chinook salmon fisheries within the California Klamath Management Zone are expected to reopen this year.

However recreational and commercial fishing to the south of the Klamath Management Zone is restricted to protect Sacramento River fall chinook, according to the Pacific Fishery Management Council.

“We do have a forecast of something greater than 300,000 for those Klamath River fall chinook,” said Robin Ehlke, the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s salmon staff officer. “That is an ocean abundance forecast minus any fishing. But it was down to less than 100,000 the year before.”

The council released three alternatives for the West Coast 2018 salmon seasons last Friday. It will set a final alternative at its meeting in Portland from April 6-11. Detailed information about season starting dates, areas open and catch limits for the three alternatives are available at www.pcouncil.org.

The public can provide input at public hearings scheduled for March 26 in Westport, Washington and Coos Bay, Oregon and in Salinas, California on March 27. The council will also hear public comment and make a final decision at its meeting in Portland on April 6-11. It will forward its final season recommendations to the National Marine Fisheries Service by May 1.

Fisheries in northern Oregon are limited by the need to reduce the catch of lower Columbia natural tule chinook and coho stocks of concern. Three stocks of coho on the Queets River, Strait of Juan de Fuca and Snohomish meet the criteria for overfished status, according to a Pacific Fishery Management press release.

Fisheries south of Cape Falcon, Oregon, are limited by the need to reduce the catch of Oregon Coast natural coho, Klamath River fall chinook, Sacramento fall chinook and Rogue/Klamath coho.

Last year’s three alternatives for ocean salmon fishing in Northern California recommended a full closure between Horse Mountain to the California-Oregon border. This year, even though the Klamath River fall chinook run is still considered overfished, the Pacific Fishery Management Council thinks it will meet its spawning escapement goal of 40,000 fish, Ehlke said.

“We will be working on developing a rebuilding plan for not only the Klamath River, but also for Sacramento stocks despite an improved forecast,” she said.

To reached an overfished declaration, scientists look back at three years of escapement and ask if it has met escapement goals, Ehlke said. On average, that goal was not met, she said.

“It’s a trigger that was hit and so we’ll meet those requirements to develop a rebuilding plan,” Ehlke said. “We’ll just take it from there.”

For the commercial Klamath River chinook fishery between the Oregon-California border to the Humboldt Bay south jetty, the first proposed catch limit is 20 chinook per vessel per day or 4,000 chinook from June 1-30, July 1-31 and Aug. 3-31, according to the Pacific Fishery Management Council.

The second alternative for the commercial Klamath River chinook fishery between the Oregon-California border to the Humboldt Bay south jetty proposes a daily limit of 20 chinook per vessel and 2,000 chinook between May 1-31; 4,000 chinook between June 1-30; 2,000 chinook between July 1-31; and 2,000 chinook from Aug. 3-31.

The third alternative for the commercial Klamath River chinook fishery between the Oregon-California border and the Humboldt Bay south jetty proposes a catch limit of 20 chinook per vessel per day and a monthly limit of 5,000 from May 1-31; 5,000 from June 1-30; 2,000 from July 1-31; 2,000 from Aug. 3-28 and 3,000 from Sept. 1-30, according to the Council.

As for the recreational fishery within the California Klamath Management Zone, which will last from June 20-July 31 and from Aug. 20-Sept. 3, the proposed catch limit is two salmon per day for all salmon except coho, according to the Council, and a chinook minimum size limit of 20 inches in length, according to the Pacific Fishery Management Council.

The second alternative includes a proposed season from July 1-Sept. 3 with the same catch limit as the first alternative. The third alternative includes a proposed season from June 16-Sept. 3 with the same catch limit as the first alternative, according to the Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Reach Jessica Cejnar at jcejnar@triplicate.com .

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