It’s been three years since many local commercial fisherman have been able to make their living catching salmon. 2009’s season was nonexistent, while last year’s lasted only a few days. Will this year be any different?
According to the Chron’s Carolyn Jones, salmon fishing is back, albeit slowly. Reports from Sunday’s start of the recreational fishing season indicate a scarce amount of catchable fish, although scientists estimate that 730,000 salmon are making their way through the Sacramento River system.
Fourth-generation SF fisherman Jason Salvato tells Jones, “Right now, I’m hearing the fish are small and scattered, so I’m going to wait.” Many fishing boats require extensive repairs, their crews also out of practice, further delaying the season. High fuel prices, CBS5 reports, “have led some anglers to postpone their first trips to sea until reports come back of better salmon catches.”
Jones also reports that sustainability issues may have an impact on their business.
Last year, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s popular Seafood Watch fish sustainability recommendation program told consumers to avoid California wild salmon, and hasn’t issued a recommendation this year. According to the Jones, “bad ratings from Seafood Watch can cost fishermen upwards of $1 a pound.”
Meanwhile, in the Chron’s food section, Sophie Brickman has a far more optimistic report, saying that “local fishermen, environmentalists and fish eaters alike have reason to rejoice” in a fishing season that will be “buoying the local economy and bringing sustainable local fish to your nearby market throughout the summer. “
Who’ll end up being more on the mark, Carolyn Jones’ measured, cautious approach or Brickman’s joyful noise? It’s obviously too soon to tell, but until then, if you’re in a salmon mood, Seafood Watch recommends you opt for wild-caught salmon from Alaska or American-tank-farmed Coho or Silver Salmon instead.