Mixed bag for salmon

Delta pumping restrictions may help salmon, but only time will tell what this year’s commercial ocean fishing season will do

Environmentalists involved in the longstanding debate over how to best protect Sacramento River spring-run chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead saw a victory recently, when a federal judge reinstated restrictions on pumping in California’s Delta.

On March 31, Judge Oliver Wanger of the Eastern District of California shot down a request from water-rights holders in western Fresno and Kings counties for a temporary restraining order on the National Marine Fisheries Service’s biological opinion that seasonal water flows are required to protect the endangered salmon and steelhead populations.

Meanwhile, last week, the Pacific Fishery Management Council established the fishing season for the California coast, and for the first time in three years it includes commercial fishing. A limited commercial season of eight days is slated in July for coastal waters south of Point Arena in Mendocino County. Additional limited fishing will take place later in the summer near Fort Bragg. Chinook is the only species included in the recreational season, which extends until Sept. 6 in most regions. For specifics, visit www.pcouncil.org.