US mulls Pacific salmon fishing ban

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The US government will decide next week whether to issue a complete season-long ban on salmon fishing off the Pacific coast of the US.

The proposal comes in response to a drastic collapse in fish stocks.

But fishermen’s groups say it will devastate their industry and cost the local economy billions of dollars.

With a light hand on the steering wheel, captain Phil Bentivegna guides his boat, Butchie B, out of San Francisco harbour.

He has worked on the ocean for 41 years, many of them in his current role, running charter tours for sports fishing enthusiasts.

We pass dozens of other such boats, testament to this important part of San Francisco’s tourist infrastructure.

But the fishing tour business is quiet these days. In fact, Mr Bentivegna tells me: “Last year was probably the slowest year I have ever had for catching salmon.”

Economic cost

Commercial fishermen are facing tough times too.

California and Oregon, western states with considerable commercial and recreational fishing industries, are looking at the very real possibility of not being able to fish any salmon at all this year.

It could cost the local economy more than $3bn (