Last week, the Pacific Fishery Management Council released its annual population estimates for Chinook off the Pacific Coast. The council estimates about 300,000 adult fall-run salmon from the Sacramento River system are swimming off the coast this year. For the past several years, the forecasts have predicted more than 600,000 salmon.

Fishing trade groups say they’re expecting potentially severe curtailments to the upcoming fishing seasons for both recreational and commercial anglers. The estimates will be used by regulators in the next few weeks to set catch limits for both seasons, which tend to run from spring to fall.

Officials blame the poor numbers on unfavorable ocean and river conditions following years of drought.

The disappointing population estimates follow a challenging year for California’s commercial fishermen. Last year’s salmon-fishing season was restricted in some areas to protect endangered winter-run Chinook whose numbers have plummeted in California’s record drought.

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