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Mar 8, 2011 10:12 PM by Steve Adamson

Tough days for the salmon fisherman

There's been little or no salmon fishing off the California coast the past three years. It's obviously not been a good period for salmon fishermen. "Guys are unable to buy their fishing licenses and they definitely don't have money to haul their boats out and do the necessary maintenance to go salmon fishing. I very well could be out of business in a few weeks," said Brian Stacy, a longtime Morro Bay commercial salmon fisherman.

Fishing has never been an easy job, even when the times are good. The bad times of the recent years are taking their toll on the salmon fisherman. The commercial season was closed off the entire California coast both in 2008 and 2009 by regulators due to low numbers of the fish in local waters. Last year, there was a very limited season of only eight days. Federal disaster aid money compensated the fisherman for the 2008 and 2009 seasons, but no relief money so far has been approved for the 2010 loss of business.

Without either some federal assistance or a better salmon fishing season this year, salmon fishermen cannot help but wonder if their fishing days might be numbered. "For those who relied on salmon fishing, and many, many did up and down the coast of California, it's been pretty rough going," said Jeremiah O'Brien of the Morro Bay Commerical Fisherman's Organization.

Salmon fishermen don't know what to expect for the 2011 season yet. Regulators have yet to determine how long the season will be and what areas will be restricted from fishing off the coast. That will come next month in April.

Consumers have also paid the price of the poor salmon seasons of recent years. The cost of it has doubled and in some cases tripled.

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