Outdoors

Public can comment on getting nets out of lower Columbia

Spring chinook salmon are prized for table quality.  (File / The Spokesman-Review)
Spring chinook salmon are prized for table quality. (File / The Spokesman-Review)

SALMON FISHING — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will take public comment on a proposed plan to restructure salmon and sturgeon fisheries on the lower Columbia River at a meeting Dec. 14-15 in Olympia.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted 4-2 Friday to approve the plan, which forces commercial gillnets out of the rive rand into the tributaries.

  • Here's another report on the Oregon Commission's vote from the Vancouver Columbian.

In mid-November, a work group made up of representatives from Washington and Oregon developed a set of recommendations to restructure salmon and sturgeon fisheries in the lower Columbia River.

Members of the Tri-State Steelheaders are trying to get the commission to looking into aspects of spring chinook management that, in their opinion, short-change Eastern Washington sport fishermen.

For example, they say in the letter document attached below, “37 percent of the Columbia River Salmon & Steelhead Endorsements are purchased by anglers in communities located in Eastern Washington, while only 12 percent of the  harvest for spring chinook has been allowed to occur above Bonneville Dam.”

Click “continue reading” below for a list of key provisions in the proposed plan as cited by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Also on the commission's Dec. 14-15 meeting agenda are proposed rules for compensating livestock operators for losses to bears, cougars and wolves.

Key provisions of the proposed plan, “Management Strategies for Columbia River Recreational and Commercial Fisheries: 2013 and Beyond,” include:

  • Prioritizing the recreational fisheries in the mainstem Columbia River and commercial fisheries in off-channel areas.
  • Transitioning commercial fisheries remaining in the mainstem Columbia River to alternative gear, such as beach and purse seines.
  • Phasing out the use of gillnets by non-tribal fishers in the mainstem by 2017, while maintaining the economic viability of the commercial fishery during and after the transition.
  • Shifting a greater portion of current hatchery salmon releases to off-channel areas, and exploring options for expanding those areas for commercial fisheries.
  • Gradually increasing the catch share of salmon for the sport fishery in the mainstem over the next four years and by 2017 providing 100 percent of the summer and mainstem spring chinook harvest to the sport fishery, while increasing spring chinook opportunity for the commercial fishery in the off-channel areas.
  • Requiring sport anglers fishing for salmon and steelhead in the mainstem Columbia River and its tributaries to use barbless hooks beginning 2013.
  • Considering catch-and-release only recreational fisheries for white sturgeon in the lower river, as well as Washington's coast and Puget Sound, to protect lower Columbia River-origin white sturgeon. Closing non-tribal commercial fisheries for white sturgeon in the lower river and coast also would be considered as part of this effort.
  • Reviewing the plan during the transition to ensure objectives are being met. If necessary, changes will be made to meet the established objectives.



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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.


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