Updated: February 3, 2011
Fishermen in Canada and the U.S. may have to give up part of their lucrative chinook salmon catch to help the recovery of endangered resident killer whales.
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a news release Wednesday it plans to hold a science workshop with Fisheries and Oceans Canada in the spring to discuss potential catch restrictions.
The federal agency said that "killer whales depend to a substantial degree on large chinook salmon as a high-calorie food source" and that "killer whale productivity is affected by chinook abundance."
As a result of the workshop, both countries will be "better able to determine whether and to what extent additional constraints on salmon fishing may be necessary," it said.
The action comes as NOAA considers a Puget Sound management plan for the native and non-native sport and commercial chinook harvest through 2014.
Chinook is the largest species of Pacific salmon; any move to reduce harvests of the lucrative and tasty fish in favour of killer whales is certain to be controversial.
NOAA says that because of the extensive range of the southern resident killer whales, fisheries from California north to southeast Alaska may be affected.
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