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West Coast salmon fishery gets disaster aid

April 30, 2009 |  7:00 pm


  The federal government is sending $46.4 million in disaster aid to California salmon fishermen, who are struggling for survival.
     U.S. Commerce Department officials announced today that they were extending last year's salmon disaster declaration on the West Coast and distributing $53 million in disaster funds left over from 2008. Most of the money will to go to California, where poor salmon runs are prompting the closure of the commercial season for the second year in a row.
     The fall-run chinook salmon that spawn in the Sacramento River are the core of the West Coast's commercial harvest. Only 66,000 of them returned to their spawning grounds last year. This year nearly twice that number are expected to make the trip, but that will still be far below a healthy run.
     The decline in chinook, also known as wild king salmon, has been attributed to warm ocean conditions that depleted food supplies, habitat destruction and pollution in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

--Bettina Boxall 

Photo: A fishing boat docked in San Francisco Credit: Tara Zorovich / Bloomberg News