TILLAMOOK - The Nehalem basin will close to retention of chinook salmon from June 15 through July 31 under temporary rules announced today by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The closure applies to the entire Nehalem basin including the bay, North and South Forks, and tributaries. The action is necessary to protect expected low returns of summer and fall chinook, according to Chris Knutsen, district fish biologist for ODFW's North Coast Watershed.
The Nehalem supports populations of both summer and fall chinook salmon. On June 5, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission closed the fall chinook season in the Nehalem beginning Aug. 1 based on surveys that showed low returns the past three years, coupled with another poor return forecast in 2009.
The summer chinook population is particularly at risk, according to Knutsen, because it is a much smaller population than the fall run. Biologists recommended closure of the summer season as an additional conservation measure that coincides with the period when summer chinook begin to enter the bay and river.
"We believe this action is consistent with the conservation approach for management of chinook fisheries in the Nehalem basin," he said.
The Nehalem will now be closed for chinook angling from June 15 through Dec. 31, 2009.
Knutsen noted that there are still great opportunities for coho salmon in the Nehalem basin, including a forecasted strong return of hatchery fish.