Fishermen like walrus-mustached Larry Collins, captain of the Autumn Gale in San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf, face an agonizing choice.
"This year, Collins and other California fishermen face an agonizing choice: Whether to gear up for a season that could not only leave them in the red, but may also jeopardize the future of struggling salmon populations.
The past five years have already been harrowing, with a round of fishing bans to protect declining salmon runs in the Klamath River near the California-Oregon border. While those stocks are now in better shape, the main population of local salmon -- the celebrated Sacramento River fall run of chinooks -- is in steep decline. For the past two years, the federal government has banned commercial salmon fishing in California and most of Oregon.
Then, in April, Collins and other fishermen received what seemed like good news. The Pacific Fishery Management Council, a 14-member assembly that makes fishing recommendations to the federal government, voted to open salmon season in California and Oregon. But, particularly in California, the season will be just a fraction of what it once was: Beginning July 1, some 400 commercial fishing boats could be chasing roughly 33,500 salmon."