FISHING — A proposed plan to restructure salmon and sturgeon fisheries on the lower Columbia River is available for review on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website.
The recommendations, posted today, were developed by a work group of representatives from Washington and Oregon assembled in September at the request of Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber. The proposals have been forwarded the the Oregon and Washington fish and wildlife commissions.
Key provisions of the proposed plan, “Management Strategies for Columbia River Recreational and Commercial Fisheries: 2013 and Beyond,” listed by the WDFW include:
- Prioritizing the recreational fisheries in the mainstem Columbia River and commercial fisheries in off-channel areas.
- Transitioning commercial fisheries remaining in the mainstem 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 sport fisheries in the mainstem by 2017, including 80 percent for spring chinook and 100 percent for summer chinook.
- 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, 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.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to accept public comments on the recommendations at its Dec. 14-15 meeting in Olympia. An agenda for that meeting, when established, will be posted here.
Oregon's Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to consider the proposal Dec. 7.