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SAN FRANCISCO - The number of chinook salmon returning to California's Central Valley has reached a near-record low, pointing to an "unprecedented collapse" that could lead to severe restrictions on West Coast salmon fishing this year, according to federal fishery regulators.
The drop in chinook, or "king," salmon returning from the Pacific Ocean to spawn in the Sacramento River and its tributaries this past fall is part of a broader decline in wild salmon runs in rivers across the West.
The population dropped 88 percent from its high five years ago, according to an internal memo sent to Pacific Fishery Management Council members and obtained by the AP. Regulators are trying to understand the reasons for the shrinking numbers; some scientists say it could be related to ocean changes linked to global warming. Only 90,000 returning adult salmon were counted in the Central Valley in 2007.
[Last modified January 30, 2008, 01:55:08]