KLAMATH, Calif. - The Yurok Tribe announced Friday that they are preparing for what they are calling, “The most catastrophic fisheries collapse in the Klamath River’s history.“
Yurok officials said that the amount Chinook salmon predicted to return to the river in 2017 is around 11,000 fish. This would be the lowest number on record, according to the Yurok Tribe.
“This is a nightmare. I have never in my life dreamed that it could get this bad,” said Thomas P. O’Rourke Sr., Chairman of the Yurok Tribe. “This is devastating to our people, not only physically but emotionally. It’s saddening and hard to believe.”
Yurok Tribe officials said that the 2017 allocation, which is set by the Pacific Fisheries Management Council, will most likely be 650 fish. That equates to one fish for every 10 tribal members.
The tribe explained the cause of the low numbers is largely due to two consecutive juvenile fish disease outbreaks.
The Yurok Tribe added the disease is heightened by the presence of the four Klamath Dams, which are a primary driver of the juvenile disease problem and water quality issues.
The Yurok Tribe said they are working hard to ensure the dam removal process continues as planned and salmon can return to the upper reaches of the river.
If the dams are removed, the Yurok Tribe said it will be a major step toward the restoration of the Klamath River.
Last week, the Yurok Tribal Council held a special work session to begin developing a strategy to make up for the loss of fish and fishing income.