Salmon Fishing Banned Along U.S. West Coast

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Although the nature of the problem is different this year than in 2006, the impact will be at least as broadly felt, McCall said.

"This is such a difficult situation," she said.

(See photos of dams along the Columbia River.)

Obvious Signs

The Sacramento River chinook run is usually one of the most productive on the coast, but counts last fall found a record low number of chinook returning to California's Central Valley. (See a map of California.)

San Francisco commercial fisher Barbara Emley said the signs of this year's problems with the chinook run have been obvious for a few years.

"This has unmasked the issue behind the problem," said Emley, who has fished for salmon with her husband for more than 20 years. Too few juvenile fish survive to swim out to the Pacific Ocean, she said.

Two years ago, busloads of fishers attended the Pacific Fishery Council's meetings to protest the proposed cutbacks, McIsaac said. This year, little opposition has been voiced.

"I believe that the council is doing what it has to do," Emley said.

Consumers can expect to have a hard time finding chinook at stores later this year, but they will still be able to buy farm-raised salmon, as well as wild sockeye from Alaska.

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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