It's official, 2009 will be closed to all commercial king salmon fishing- again. We've all been reading about the economy, the layoffs, the furloughs, the bailouts. Imagine a two year furlough with little or no bailout- that's what our local salmon fishermen are going through as they brace for yet another year without work.
"Many of the little guys won't make it through a second year of closure. For us, we have a retirement (from a previous career) to carry us. If it weren't for that (and the small fish distribution business that we operate) we wouldn't make it either", says Larry Mayamuro, our local source for California king salmon.
The local king salmon population faced a disasterous fall runover this past year due to a triple whammy of factors: fresh water being diverted to cities from the delta, poor ocean conditions causing poor food source (crill) for the small salmon fry when they go to the open ocean, and a large proportion of hatchery fish which increases the salmon's vulnerability since the hatchery fish tend to migrate at the same time (and as a result are exposed to the same poor conditions) versus wild fish that migrate at different times throughout the run (and might find better conditions depending on the time they migrate).
As for the prospects for 2010, Larry says it looks like it will be a good season. "The salmon are very resilient. In 1983 we went through a similar situation only to see a record catch in 1988". Hang in there Larry (and all of the Califonia king almon fisherman), we can't wait for 2010 to put our local king salmon back on the menu at Tucos!