SACRAMENTO, Feb. 26 (UPI) — Some salmon fishermen say they’re wary of an upbeat forecast that predicts 245,483 Chinook will spawn in California’s Sacramento River system this fall.
The run traditionally comprised 90 percent of the salmon caught off the California coast and 60 percent caught off Oregon.
At the peak in 2002, 769,868 salmon spawned in the river system. By 2008, however, just 64,456 spawned there. Last year, the number fell to 39,530 — far short of the 122,000 fall-run chinook the National Marine Fisheries Services had estimated would spawn in the fall of 2009.
The services estimate of 245,483 for this fall has some fishermen questioning the validity of the forecast, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday.
“I don’t think anybody in this room wants to contribute to the extinction of a species, even though we know fishing didn’t contribute to the problem” said Chuck Cappotto, 64, a Bodega Bay, Calif., fisherman.
Most fishermen blame the demise on increases in water diversions from the river’s system to farmers.
The forecast for the 2010 fall run was based primarily on the percentage of 2-year-old salmon that returned early to the river system last year. About 9,000 early salmon were counted last year compared with about 4,000 the year before, an indication more fish should return this fall, biologists said.
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