SELKIRK, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 02: Salmon attempt to leap up the fish ladder in the river Etterick on November 2, 2010 in Selkirk, Scotland. The salmon are returning upstream from the sea where they have spent between two and four winters feeding with many covering huge distances to return to the fresh waters to spawn. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
The department announced the preliminary figure Tuesday at a meeting in Santa Rosa. Morse says federal regulators will evaluate the data and come up with a final number to make recommendations on the length of this year's season. That decision will come in April.
Canceled and limited seasons have financially devastated West Coast fishermen in recent years. The department cautions that the actual number of fish counted by the 2010 season's end was fewer than half what was predicted.