Environment & Science

Shortened salmon season opens for California's commercial boats

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Salmon season is underway in California. It's the first time in three years that commercial captains may legally catch that fish.

Boats may land all salmon except coho through the 4th of July, and on some days next week. When the fishery closed three years ago it deprived salmon fishermen of jobs and the state of income from the commercial boats.

Fishermen welcome the state Department of Fish and Game's decision to allow the hunt for salmon again. But the longest the season can run is eight days. Many boats are up for sale already, and the count of available salmon is at historic lows.

Skippers and environmentalists argue that fishermen aren't to blame. Gravel-bottomed rivers where salmon should spawn have been turned into channelized concrete aqueducts and canals throughout the state.

Fish and Game-operated hatcheries have stocked more salmon into streams. The genetic diversity of those fish is diminished, and their numbers are harder to maintain than in years past.