During Coronavirus Crisis, California Salmon Season Opens

California’s commercial ocean salmon season opened today from Fort Bragg south throughout the rest of the state. But like most other walks of life, the coronavirus crisis is creating a lot of uncertainty in the fishing industry, as the San Francisco Chronicle explains:

Early signs indicate a bountiful year for salmon catches in 2020. There are more than 470,000 adult salmon off the Bay Area coast this season, according to recent scientific data. In 2019, there were almost 100,000 fewer fish along the coast, and many fishermen called last year the biggest salmon season in a decade.

But catching fish is only one aspect of how the commercial season functions. And since the coronavirus crisis has touched every aspect of California’s food industry, at some point soon it has to reveal its impact on the salmon season. Both the farmed seafood industry and the local fishing fleet have already been hard-hit by the Bay Area shelter-in-place ordersince last month, which forced many restaurants that purchase wild fish fresh from the boats to either close or pivot to takeout and to-go service. Without that vital distribution point, salmon fishermen are pinning their hopes on grocery stores and local markets.