SEATTLE -- It has taken everything civilization and nature could dish out, but the storied Pacific salmon may be able to take no more. Its numbers are melting away so rapidly that government regulators planned to announce today a proposal to cancel, or sharply curtail, the 1992 ocean salmon fishing season all along the West Coast, from the Mexican border to Canada.
Closing the summer salmon season in California, Oregon and Washington for both recreational and commercial fishing would be without precedent -- the result of a 100-year decline in a once vital fishery that ranged from Mexico northward.
Fish marketing experts said that the effect of a reduced or canceled commercial season along the West Coast probably would have only minor effects on salmon availability and price at the marketplace, because most commercial salmon comes from elsewhere. Last year fisheries in Alaska, British Columbia and South America actually produced a market glut.