Demystifying the salmon season planning process. An introduction to the Pacific Fisheries Marine Council

The Pacific Fishery Management Council is one of eight regional fishery management councils established by the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976. They recommend fishery management measures in the Federal waters off Washington, Oregon, and California. Planning the Salmon fishing season is one of their functions.


How is the Salmon Season planned?

Each year at its March and April meetings the Council establishes management measures for commercial, tribal, and recreational salmon fisheries off the coasts of California, Washington, Oregon, and even landlocked Idaho. The management year for ocean salmon fisheries begins on May 16 and lasts for 12 months to the following May 15th. To support Council decision making the Council’s Salmon Technical Team and Council staff develop four documents that outline salmon management for the upcoming fishing year:

  • Review of Ocean Salmon Fisheries for the previous year (Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation, or SAFE, document)
  • Preseason Report I:  The forecast used to set salmon fisheries
  • Preseason Report II:  A description of the Council’s proposed ocean salmon management alternatives and their impacts on ocean salmon fisheries and stocks
  • Preseason Report III:  The Salmon Technical Team’s analysis of ocean salmon fishery management measures adopted by the Council for submission to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce

This is where the first preseason report on the 2024 season will be posted.



Overall, the process of planning the salmon fishing season on the West Coast involves a complex and multifaceted decision-making process, with many different factors and stakeholders to consider. The PFMC works closely with state and federal agencies, as well as fishermen and other interested parties, to ensure that its decisions are based on the best available data and reflect the needs and concerns of all stakeholders.

There is opportunity for the general public to be involved.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) has a unique process of public participation in the planning and use of natural resources, particularly when compared to other federal processes that may not have as much public input.

One of the main ways that the PFMC involves the public is through its advisory bodies, which include representatives from different stakeholder groups, including commercial and recreational fishermen, environmental organizations, and tribes. These advisory bodies provide input to the council on issues related to fishery management and help to ensure that the council’s decisions reflect the needs and concerns of all stakeholders.

The council also holds public meetings throughout the year, which provide opportunities for members of the public to provide input and feedback on proposed regulations and management plans. The council encourages public comment and actively seeks out input from a wide range of stakeholders, including fishermen, conservation groups, and the general public.

Overall, the unique process of public participation in the PFMC’s decision-making process reflects the council’s commitment to promoting the sustainable use of natural resources and to ensuring that its decisions reflect the needs and concerns of all stakeholders.

How it get involved.

The PFMC posts a schedule of upcoming meetings, agendas, briefing books and E-portal for public comments. Additionally there is an archive of materials including youtube videos of past meetings. Please click through the links below to access the PFMC site directly.

Home page for the Pacific Marine Fisheries Council

3/5-3/11/2024 P.F.M.C. March Council Meeting

Agenda available here

Briefing book available here

Link to public comments here (you can also see the comments of others should you be interested)