CDFW, Golden State Salmon Association React To Ocean Fishing Closures


As news broke about the Pacific Marine Fishery Council voted to indeed close the 2024 California ocean salmon season for the second year in a row, here’s some reaction, first from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which recommended the closure in a letter to the PFMC:

On Wednesday, April 10, 2024, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) acted unanimously to recommend closure of California’s commercial and recreational ocean salmon fisheries through the end of the year, mirroring recommendations made last year to close the fisheries in 2023.

Salmon stocks continue to be impacted in California from ongoing issues associated with drought and climate disruption. The salmon currently present and returning to California’s coast and rivers were impacted by a multi-year drought, severe wildfires, and associated impacts to spawning and rearing habitat, harmful algal blooms and ocean forage shifts. The low ocean abundance forecasts, coupled with low 2023 returns, led the PFMC to recommend full closure of California’s commercial and recreational ocean salmon fisheries.

After reviewing the PFMC recommendation, it is expected that the National Marine Fisheries Service will take regulatory action to enact the closure, effective in mid-May. In addition, the California Fish and Game Commission will consider whether to adopt a closure of inland salmon fisheries at its May 15 teleconference meeting.

“After the closure last year, this decision is not an easy one to make,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “While we have been enjoying back-to-back rainy and wet winters this year and last, the salmon that will benefit from these conditions aren’t expected to return to California until around 2026 or 2027. The current salmon for this year’s season were impacted by the difficult environmental factors present three to five years ago.”

“While incredibly painful to fishing families and fishing communities, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations supports the closure,” said George Bradshaw, president of PCFFA. “We all need to be doing everything we can to give California’s salmon a chance to recover. It has to be an all hands-on deck effort to ensure survival for our Central Valley and Klamath salmon runs.” 

Following today’s actions, CDFW will work to expedite a request for federal fishery resource disaster determination for the State of California 2024 Sacramento River Fall Chinook and Klamath River Fall Chinook ocean salmon fisheries. Governor Newsom made a similar request in response to the closure in 2023, which was approved. The Department is currently seeking comments on the 2023 spend plan for the $20,625,729 that has been allocated by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration for the disaster. Comments may be provided via email through 5 p.m., April 19, 2024, at

Salmon are significantly important to California’s cultural and natural resources. These important species provide significant commercial, recreational, economic, intrinsic, and cultural benefits to California Native American tribes, fishing communities and the state.  California is taking several steps to rebuild salmon stocks across California. In late January 2024, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a California Salmon Strategy for a Hotter, Drier Future: Restoring Aquatic Ecosystems in the Age of Climate Change. The strategy has six priorities and 71 actions that will benefit salmon stocks in California.

More information about the PFMC is available on the PFMC website.(opens in new tab) More information about federal fishery disaster relief and ocean salmon fishing seasons is available on the CDFW website.

And here’s reaction from the Golden State Salmon Association:

California Salmon Fishery Shuttered for Second Year in a Row

Low salmon abundance numbers caused by water policy failures signal 2024 disaster for fishing families and communities

AMERICAN CANYON, Calif. – Coastal towns, river communities and tens of thousands of salmon fishermen and women, businesses, and employees that serve both the sport and commercial salmon fishery are now assured they’ll see no income for the second year in a row with the official closure of the 2024 salmon season. 

On Wednesday, the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to finalize the season’s closure–a drastic step that continues to plague all of California’s marine and inland waters as well as ocean salmon fishing off most of the Oregon coast.  

“Under Governor Newsom, the State of California has a disastrous environmental record–dangerously low river flows, unsustainable water diversions out of our rivers, record high water temperatures because of dam operations and record numbers of salmon eggs and juveniles killed in our streams. Further, California has planted a record amount of insatiably thirsty almond acreage,” said Scott Artis, executive director of Golden State Salmon Association. “Our water, our natural resources, the resources every Californian and the entire salmon industry rely on, are being stolen on Governor Newsom’s watch.”

This closure comes on the heels of the 2023 shutdown that devastated the commercial and recreational salmon industry, and marks the fourth year in California’s history that salmon fishing has been closed. Salmon fishing was previously closed in 2008 and 2009. Fishery managers, in a presentation given to the salmon industry on February 28, forecasted low adult Sacramento Valley fall-run Chinook salmon in the ocean off the West Coast. Like 2023, this year’s decision was made due to low ocean abundance estimates of adult and two-year-old jack salmon that survived the hostile conditions they have encountered in Central Valley rivers in recent years. 

According to a February 2024 report issued by the Pacific Fishery Management Council, the average number of fall-run Chinook wild salmon that returned to the upper Sacramento River annually to spawn between 1996-2005 was more than 175,000 fish. In 2023, that number was only 6,160. Spring-run salmon on the upper Sacramento River also experienced dramatic declines with an estimated 106 individuals returning in 2023 compared to more than 5,000 returning in both 2021 and 2022. The upper Sacramento River supports four separate salmon runs–fall, winter, spring and late-fall. It has been critically important to endangered winter-run and threatened spring-run Chinook salmon. The upper Sacramento River has historically been the backbone of salmon fishing below the Shasta Dam.

The cause of the 2023 and 2024 salmon shutdowns is clear. In the fall of 2020 and the spring of 2021, baby salmon faced four threats. First, the state failed to require adequate temperature protection for salmon eggs. As a result, lethal hot water, caused by excessive agricultural water deliveries earlier in the year, killed incubating salmon eggs. Second, Governor Newsom has shut down the State Water Board effort to update Bay-Delta standards, including river flow standards to protect outmigrating salmon. As a result, baby salmon did not survive their journey out of the Central Valley to the ocean. Third, in the spring of 2021, salmon faced deadly conditions in the Delta. And finally, in 2021, Governor Newsom waived the already poor salmon standards that were in place in order to allow additional pumping. As a result, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife concluded that 99.7% of winter-run Chinook salmon eggs and juveniles were killed before they reached the Delta. 

“We can’t sugarcoat it or lay the blame solely on drought,” said Artis. “Governor Newsom’s water policies are devastating the thousands of families that rely on salmon to pay their rent and mortgages, put food on the table, and keep their businesses afloat. It’s simple. When the state’s water policies kill all the baby salmon, 2 to 3 years later you don’t get many returning adults. This is Governor Newsom’s legacy.”

A healthy California salmon industry is valued at $1.4 billion in economic activity and 23,000 jobs annually to the state in a normal season and contributes millions of dollars more to the economy and supports thousands of jobs in Oregon. Salmon workers benefiting from Central Valley salmon stretch from Santa Barbara to northern Oregon. This includes commercial fishermen and women, recreational fishermen and women (fresh and salt water), fish processors, marinas, coastal and river communities, equipment manufacturers, the hotel and food industry, Tribes, and many others.

California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin River system supports four distinct Chinook salmon runs: fall, late-fall, winter and spring. The winter- and spring-runs have seen periods of alarmingly low numbers and are designated as endangered and threatened, respectively, under the Endangered Species Act. The fall-run has been the only commercially and recreationally fishable stock, prior to recent and current season closures. The late-fall run has been eliminated from most of its native spawning habitat. All four Chinook salmon runs are dependent upon cold water flows and releases from reservoirs for migration and spawning.

Golden State Salmon Association ( is a coalition of salmon advocates that includes commercial and recreational salmon fishermen and women, businesses, restaurants, native tribes, environmentalists, elected officials, families and communities that rely on salmon. GSSA’s mission is to restore California salmon for their economic, recreational, commercial, environmental, cultural and health values.