California salmon season canceled

April 10, 2008 8:51:08 PM PDT
The commercial salmon season has just been canceled for the entire California and Oregon coast.

West Coast fishery managers voted on Thursday to ban salmon fishing for one year to protect the species.

Local fishermen say they will be out millions of dollars, and you could be spending much more for salmon at the grocery store.

"We've known from all the preliminaries -- we follow it pretty closely -- we know that we're done for before we get started," said fisherman Geoff Bettencourt.

Geoff Bettencourt is resigned that this is going to be a bad year. He's a fourth generation salmon fisherman, and says that the loss of an entire season will hurt.

"That's my full-time living. That's how I pay my health insurance, house payment right on down the road. It hurts, that's for sure," said

The loss could amount to a staggering $25 million. Two years ago, the Commerce Department estimated losses at $16 million when the catch was only 80 percent of normal.

The impact will be felt on shore as well at places like Ketch Joanne's where local and visiting fishing crews like to eat.

"We need the commercial fishermen; the sport fishermen come in to Ketch Joanne and buy a cup of soup, maybe a beer, keep us on our feet. It's going to be a huge blow to the family and the staff," said Albert Dunne from Ketch Joanne Restaurant.

No wild salmon means consumers may turn to farm-raised salmon, a blow to the fishermen.

"I ended up having farmed salmon the other night by accident, and it was delicious," said Half Moon Bay resident Barbara Seitz.

The harbor has grown uncharacteristically quiet -- which is surprising.

"You should be hearing saws buzzing, paint brushes going, fishermen going up and down with their four by eight sheets of plywood talking about where the salmon should be," said Harbor District Commissioner Pietro Parravano.

It will be idle when it should be all hands on deck.

"With no fish, there's no season, there's no living, there's no life for us," said Bettencourt.

West Coast salmon fishermen tell me they're starting to feel like the old men of the sea. Their average age is close to 60, and if there are any more setbacks like this, there might not be a next generation.


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