Best year for salmon fishing

July 6, 2012 7:50:26 PM PDT
Bay Area salmon fisherman are seeing the biggest catch in a decade. There are so many fish coming into San Francisco that the wholesale price has been cut in half.

Pier 45 on Fisherman's Wharf is where commercial fisherman come to unload their salmon, and they are unloading more salmon than this pier has seen in many years.

The fisherman owned co ?op, that is the San Francisco Community Fishing Association has 14 boats coming in loaded every week. "Anywhere from 800 to 2500 pounds a week so there's quite a bit of fish moving through," Co-op President Larry Collins said.

Collins says these salmon are the result of a big spawn three years ago, when California's rivers were swollen with snow melt and rain. "You can always relate the number of the fish in the ocean to what kind of flows you had in the river three years before," Collins said.

"This area is important because it's where they stop breathing fresh water and start breathing salt water," Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy volunteer Naomi Labeau said. She leads volunteers in restoring salmon habitat near Muir Beach. Bundles of sticks in Redwood Creek give small fish cover, and gravel bars give salmon a place to spawn.

On Fishman's Wharf Collins is happy to see people taking more of an interest in salmon restoration. "This is an iconic fish for California and everybody needs to care about it or it won't be here anymore, but it's here now," He said. Collins is even more interested in selling all the fish that is being caught. There are so many that the wholesale price has fallen from $6.50 to $3.25 a pound.

"Right now it's just everybody's sort of nervous," Fisherman John Mellor said. He says what needs to happen is demand needs to go up. "People should take advantage of it and go to the store and ask for fresh local king salmon it's a beautiful product," Mellor said.

There was a line out the door at Fish, the local market and restaurant in Sausalito, but the retail price hasn't come down much. "Oh kind of, not a lot," employee Francesco Torre said. The fishermen say retailers are reluctant to drop the price because they're not sure it will increase demand.

The executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman's Associations says the fishermen need their own retail outlet. "It would be like a farmers market, except for fisherman having it right there [sic] retail so that it' would be a convenient place for people to come get locally caught salmon and dungeness crab," Federation of Fisherman's Association executive director Zeke Grader said.

The community fishing association has been thinking about setting up a retail outlet at Fisherman's Wharf. At this point it's still an idea, but one that could payoff for bay area fishermen and their customers.


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