(NewsGlobal.com)- The National Marine Fisheries Service closed down commercial and sports fishing season in Oregon and California due to the dwindling salmon population in the states’ rivers, The Epoch Times reported.
Beginning on March 15, the salmon season will remain closed in most of Oregon and all of California until 2024.
According to Charlton Bonham, the director of California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife, the record drought “further stressed” the salmon population.
Officials anticipate about 170,000 Pacific Chinook salmon to return to lay their eggs in the Sacramento River this year, marking the lowest estimate since counting began in 2008.
Meanwhile, only about 104,000 salmon are expected to return to the Klamath River, according to Fish and Wildlife, marking the second-lowest estimate since 1997.
The salmon season on the west coast was canceled for the first time after a drought in 2008 and 2009.
Regina Chichizola, the executive director of Save California Salmon, an organization of Native Americans and fishermen relying on salmon fishing for food and their livelihoods, told The Epoch Times that the decision to cancel the season will put many people out of business and cause health problems for those who rely on salmon as a source of food.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council will hold a public meeting on March 21 to consider several options for the season, all of which include a proposal to close commercial and sports salmon fishing in California until 2024.
In the Oregon portion of the Klamath River region, commercial fishing will remain closed until 2024 while some sports fishing may reopen in the summer depending on the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s decision.
Jordan Traverso, the spokeswoman for Fish and Wildlife, said the salmon population fluctuates and they anticipate that the ample precipitation received this year will give the newly-hatched salmon a better chance of success.