A new California fishing ban is in effect for several rivers in an effort to protect coho salmon and steelhead populations threatened by the state’s severe drought.
We reported earlier this week that California’s water levels are so low right now that coho salmon and steelhead have not been able to migrate from the Pacific Ocean inland up rivers to spawn.
Both species population levels are dangerously low, and if they do not make their annual spawning migration, the next generation of the species could be wiped out. In an effort to protect both species and other fish populations, state wildlife officials have placed fishing bans on several rivers that have low water levels.
Facing The Risk Of ExtinctionSteelhead and coho salmon are facing the risk of extinction from the severe drought in California. The low water levels have dried up several of the entry points to rivers the fish follow for their migratory spawning patterns. Both species are in limbo in the Pacific Ocean waiting for higher water levels to allow them to migrate inland.
“We fully understand the impact these closures will have on California anglers and the businesses related to fishing in California, and we really feel for them,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton Bonham said in a public statement.
KCET.org reported that the California fishing ban extends to a number of rivers, including Pescadero Creek, the San Lorenzo River, Apots and Soquel creeks, the Pajaro River, the Carmel River, the Big Sur River, the Arroyo Seco River and the Salinas River, along with creeks in between Big Sur and the San Mateo coast. Streams in California’s North Coast will be closed to fishing if their water levels drop below what the state considers safe to fish.
While both steelhead and coho are at risk, steelhead have a slight advantage. Unlike coho, which migrate back to their spawning sites every three years, steelhead return to spawn each year. That means they could potentially reproduce faster than coho. But the situation is bleak at best.
The drought comes on the heels of the California’s driest year on record. Earlier this month, the state declared a drought emergency. A number of counties in the state could run out of water in the next two to four months.
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