In drastic action to stop the collapse of the West Coast salmon population, a federal fisheries council is banning salmon fishing off California and most of Oregon for the rest of the year, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. "This is a disaster," said the council chairman. The number of salmon spawning in California's Sacramento River system has plunged some 94% in six years.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency to seek federal funds for commercial fisherman. The ban is expected to suck $21 million out of the California economy alone. The reason for the alarming decline in salmon numbers remains a mystery, but some biologists believe global warming has changed the pattern of nutrient-rich ocean upwelling that sustain fish populations.