Salmon supporters met Thursday morning to address the record low numbers that have affected businesses and communities relying on the fish.
About 200 people met at San Francisco's Fort Mason to discuss ways to better manage water diversions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, which they say contributed to the cancellation of the last two salmon fishing seasons. Participants included Congressmen George Miller, D-Martinez, and Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena.
Dave Bitts, president of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Association, said he hopes the summit will send a message that too much water pumping will have a severe impact on fishermen.
"We are here today to make it as clear as we possibly can to the public that fish mean jobs too," he said.
Recreational salmon fishing off the California coast resumed on Saturday for the first time since 2007.
Most Bay Area chefs have been using sustainable salmon from Alaska for the last two years because of the cancellations, but local salmon could appear on menus as early as next week.
Vincent Schofield, executive chef at the Mission's new locally sourced Ebb & Flow, said he is excited.
"We'll be showcasing every part of the fish," he said. "I'm also planning to smoke and preserve a lot of it so we can enjoy local salmon well beyond the fishing season."
The Pacific Fisheries Management Council will vote on April 15 to decide length of the sport and commercial seasons.
The shortage problem began a few years ago when water exports from the Delta to San Joaquin Valley farms increased, which coincided with a drop in the salmon population, Bitts said.
"It's clear now that this state needs more water than it has," he said.