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New Study Argues For More Precise Timing Of Fishing Seasons

U.S. Bureau of Land Management -
Bureau of Land Management -
File photo. A new study suggests that the timing of fishing season can have a big impact on the diversity of salmon populations.

People who catch fish for sport or for a living often eagerly await the day when fishing season opens. But a new study from the University of Washington argues the timing of fishing seasons needs to be reevaluated, especially in light of climate change.

For spawning salmon, timing is everything. The fish have a precise internal clock. They have a better chance of surviving the gauntlet of fishermen if they return either before fishing season starts or after it ends.

“So the very first fish are safe, we whack the fish in the middle of the run and we don’t bother to fish at the end because there are too few fish to bother with,” UW Fisheries Professor Thomas Quinn said.

He’s looking more closely at the timing of fishing season because he said it can actually affect the diversity of the population.

“We have essentially favored the very earliest and the latest fish and tearing the heart out of the middle of the population which might actually be the most productive part,” Quinn said.

And now that climate change is bringing about warmer water temperatures, Quinn said timing matters more than ever to give fish a better chance of survival. .

He said scientists will need to do more research and share their findings before they can make specific recommendations on how to retime the seasons.

Deborah is an award–winning radio and television journalist whose career spans more than three decades. As the recipient of a 2018-2019 Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellowship, Deborah is currently focusing her reporting on adolescents and mental health.