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March 13, 2008
GRANTS PASS, Ore. - U.S. fisheries officials say a "bare bones" sport and commercial salmon fishing season is the best the West Coast can hope for this year.

Fisheries managers say they've already been forced to cancel the early season for chinook salmon fishing off the coast of Oregon and northern California because of a collapse of stocks in California rivers.

The manager's, meeting this week in Sacramento, Calif., say the idea behind cancelling the early season is to protect salmon that remain alive in the Pacific.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council says it is weighing several options for the rest of the year and plans to set final regulations at a meeting in Seattle in April.

One possibility is shutting down the salmon fishery from the northern tip of Oregon to the Mexican border - something fishermen are hoping to avoid.

California commercial trollers traditionally can't start fishing until May 1, but sport charters have been allowed to fish out of Fort Bragg, Calif., since the middle of February. They have now been shut down, along with Oregon commercial trollers set to begin fishing Saturday in a season authorized last year to run through April.

Some marine scientists say the salmon declines can be attributed in part to unusual weather patterns that have disrupted the marine food chain along the Pacific Coast in recent years.

But many fishermen believe the main culprit behind the Sacramento River's collapse is increased pumping of freshwater from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to farmers and water districts in the Central Valley and Southern California.
 
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