Fishermen Can't Find Local Salmon

By Matt Baume
|  Tuesday, Jan 4, 2011  |  Updated 12:30 PM PDT
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Fishermen Can't Find Local Salmon

AP

The decline of sport fishing on the California Delta is bad news for fisherman, and it may be a sign of even more bad news for fish.

After years of plentiful catches, it's getting harder and harder to find salmon around the Delta and in the Sacramento River. Even seasoned experts have been coming up empty-handed.

Numbers have been declining for years, but it was in 2008 that they really vanished. It's been slim pickings since then, but there's still some reason for optimism. The numbers this year are up slightly over last, which could mean that future seasons will be stronger.

If a turnaround is indeed happening, it'll come with a heavy economic price. For the last two years, fishing has been banned altogether. And even though it's allowed this year, fishermen are limited to two fish per day.

The disappearing fish have lots of people worried. Not only is the species important to the area's ecosystem, but it once supported a powerful economy.

The state estimates that the decline is costing nearly a thousand jobs and $70 million. Some businesses are losing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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