Plummeting populations have led to a federal ban on commercial salmon fishing off California for the second straight year, raising fears that the industry will disappear altogether, the Los Angeles Times reports. "If we don't go fishing next year, we have to start thinking that salmon fishing in California is over," said a commercial fisherman. That possibility also affects numerous affiliated businesses, from ice producers to fuel suppliers.
Warm ocean conditions, low food supply, habitat destruction, and pollution have devastated chinook salmon stocks, which have fallen to levels below what's necessary to sustain the population. A $170 million federal bailout last year helped offset the financial consequences, but a possible biological fix is far more elusive. "There's no one smoking gun," said one expert, "but there are a lot of spent shell casings all over the place."