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How to Not Close Salmon Fisheries

California salmon fisheries do not have to close. Hatcheries in California are still releasing thirty million hatchery smolts each year. This means that three to five hundred thousand adult hatchery salmon are still out there for potential harvest. About a quarter of the fish released from hatcheries are marked. Selectively harvesting the marked hatchery fish, while returning to the water all unmarked fish that are caught, is reasonable.

Marking all the hatchery smolts would quadruple the number of harvestable fish.

Do not let anyone tell you this is not reasonable. The state and federal governments have mismanaged California’s natural salmon production nearly into oblivion. They can spend the money to partially mitigate the consequences by marking all hatchery fish.

two fish photo, showing fin removal

Photo of marked and unmarked hatchery fish. Photo credit: Idaho Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. In the Columbia basin, all hatchery salmon are marked, and thus hatchery fish and wild fish are immediately distinguishable.

For more information on mark selective fisheries see: