Optimistic outlook for next salmon season

Scientists and fishermen are hoping this year's salmon season will be a repeat of the robust 2012 season, the best year since a sudden crash of the Chinook salmon population in 2007 forced a two-year moratorium on fishing.

"There are a large number out there and they are doing pretty well ... I imagine we'll see a pretty good year," said James Phillips, an environmental scientist with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife's Ocean Salmon Project.

Anglers and scientists got their first look at some key data last week from the 2012 fishing and spawning seasons up and down the West Coast, which is used to predict the nature of the upcoming season. That data showed that 2012 was the best since at least the early 2000s, particularly in the fisheries fed by the Klamath River along the California and Oregon border.

"Last season was probably the best season in a generation on the Klamath; it was an excellent year," Fish and Wildlife spokesman Harry Morse said.

Last week's data presentation was the first step in the annual process of determining the length and terms of the commercial and sports salmon seasons at sea and in the rivers. Members of the Pacific Fishery Management Council, the multi-state body that sets the rules for the season, will meet again in Tacoma, Wash., later this week, and at various coastal locations through early April.

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