OPTIONS FOR SALMON SEASON PROPOSED

March 13, 2001 11:00 pm

Three proposals for the 2001 ocean salmon season, including one that would allow fishermen to catch six fish a week, were brought back from a meeting of the Pacific Fishery Management Council by Jim Welter.

Welter told The Pilot Monday that three options for the Klamath Management Zone were determined at last weeks Portland meeting.

Those three options will now go through public review, he said.

City and port officials from Brookings will charter Curry Public Transit buses to Coos Bay for the March 26 public options hearing held by the Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Welter said citizens can sign up at the port office in Harbor to join the officials on the trip, or may leave comments there to be taken to the hearing.

The buses will leave from the Chetco Senior Center in Brookings at 4:45 p.m. The hearing begins at 7 p.m. in the Red Lion Inn in Coos Bay.

Option I for the recreational fishery between Humbug Mountain and Horse Mountain would open May 22 and run through July 8. Fishermen would be allowed to catch two salmon per day, up to four in 7 consecutive days.

The season would reopen on July 24 and run through Sept. 3. Fishermen would be allowed two fish a day, as in the first half of the season, but could catch up to six fish a week.

Welter said the predicted abundance of chinook salmon this year supports the six-fish-a-week limit.

He said many three-year-olds were not caught last year and are expected to return as four-year-olds.

The Endangered Species Act and other restrictions will limit the number of salmon commercials fishermen can catch, said Welter, so there should be plenty for the sport fishery.

Option II would run from May 12 through July 7 and July 25 through Sept. 3. The two-fish-a-day, four-fish-a-week limit would apply to both halves of the season.

Option III would run from May 27 through July 6 at one fish a day, and July 25 through Sept. 10 at two fish a day. The limit in both halves would be four fish a week.

Coho salmon are illegal to catch at any time, and the season shuts down in July to allow them to enter the rivers to spawn without being accidentally caught.

Option I for the commercial fishery from House Rock to the Humboldt south jetty would run Sept. 1-30, or close earlier when 8,000 were caught. Boats would be allowed to land and possess 30 fish a day.

The Port of Brookings Harbor would be limited to 2,000 chinook.

The fishery would close north of the Oregon border if that limit was reached.

Option II would be the same except for a total of 7,500 with 1,500 at Brookings Harbor. Option III would lower those quotas to 7,000 and 1,000 respectively.

Welter said the abundant salmon run may be a one-year phenomenon. He said people will pay the price for this winters nice weather, and lack of rain, in future salmon production.

Welter said hes never seen the Columbia River as low as it was last week.