Salmon Fishing Shut Down in Western States

For Immediate Release: April 7, 2023

Contacts: Todd Steiner, Executive Director, (415) 488-7653, 
Preston Brown, Director of Watershed Conservation, (303) 877-0880,
Ayano Hayes, Watershed Biologist, (916) 216-8355‬,

Salmon Fishing Shut Down in Western States

Olema, CA— Reacting to crashing salmon populations, federal officials announced a complete closure of the 2023 commercial and recreational salmon fishing in California and Oregon.

The fall-run king (chinook) salmon, the main species harvested in California, populations have dropped to 170,000, down from a million or more thirty years ago. 

Economic impacts will be felt throughout the region—in California alone the salmon fishery is a billion dollar industry, employing more than 23,000 workers, and numerous members of local tribes rely on salmon to support their way of life.

“West Coast salmon are bearing the brunt of a series of problems. Decades-long issues are coming to a head for salmonthese include the widespread damming of important rivers and streams, wetlands and forests converted to farms and cities, radical swings of weather patterns, and the attempt to replace wild fish habitats with hatcheries. Added to that is the pollution of waterways caused by road-runoff and pesticides,” said Preston Brown, Director of Watershed Conservation for SPAWN, the California-based Salmon Protection And Watershed Network.

Salmon fishing closures are hurting commercial and recreational fishers, native people who rely on salmon for nutritional and spiritual nourishment. While the immediate economic impact from the closure to fishing-related jobs will be felt by many, it will likely be lessened by federal and state disaster aid. 

There is a growing understanding by scientists, the public, and even the impacted fishing industry, that these temporary closures are necessary to prevent a complete collapse.

Ayano Hayes, SPAWN Watershed Biologist said, “The closure is a short-term strategy to help stabilize the decline status of ocean chinook salmon. We must do what we can now to support the present fisheries from becoming further threatened, as the central coast coho salmon are already critically endangered.”

Climate change is a growing threat to healthy salmon populations. Warming oceans caused by burning fossil fuels are disrupting upwelling of nutrients that feed the fish that adult salmon eat, and warming rivers and streams reduce the survival and growth of juvenile salmon.

These disruptions will only become more frequent, unless we drastically cut the burning of fossil fuels and protect salmon habitat,” said Todd Steiner, Executive Director of SPAWN. 

“The good news is that things are changing, bringing hope for the future. The growing youth and environmental movements are demanding an end to fossil fuel use, and governments are finally responding to the pressure, albeit still too slowly. Dams that have outlived their usefulness are coming down, and funding for salmon restoration is growing.”

For pictures of salmon, contact


The Salmon Protection and Watershed Network (SPAWN) is a program of the global ocean conservation non-profit Turtle Island Restoration Network that protects endangered, wild coho salmon and the forests and watersheds they need to survive in West Marin County, California. Learn more at