A joint Oregon/Washington work group considering changes to sport and commercial fisheries on the lower Columbia River concluded its work yesterday by adopting a set of recommendations to be considered by the Oregon and Washington Fish and Wildlife Commissions.

The Columbia River Fisheries Management Workgroup is comprised of three representatives each from the Oregon and Washington Fish and Wildlife Commissions, agency staff and advisors. It began meeting in September at the request of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber to consider changes that would enhance recreational fishing in the mainstem of the river and concentrate gill net commercial harvest in the off-channel select areas.

The recommendations, which still must be approved by the Oregon and Washington Fish and Wildlife Commissions, call for removing non-tribal commercial gill nets off the mainstem of the river by 2017 and transitioning to alternative gear such as beach and purse seines. At the same time, hatchery production of coho and spring and fall chinook within the select areas would be increased to offset loss of mainstem fisheries.

Also under the plan, the sport fishing share of most mainstem fisheries would gradually increase to 80 percent of spring chinook, 100 percent of summer chinook and up to 80 percent of fall chinook by 2017.

Other elements of the plan include:

  • Reconsidering the 2013 sturgeon season based on the results of the 2012 stock assessment.
  • Implementing a barbless hook rule for the mainstem Columbia River and tributary salmon and steelhead fisheries beginning in 2013.
  • Considering a Columbia River salmon and steelhead license surcharge for Oregon anglers to help fund management activities, including the transition to alternative commercial gear and enhancements to select areas.

A final version of the all the recommendations will be posted at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/OSCRP/CRM/LMCR_fisheries_mgmt_reform.asp as soon as it is available.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider the recommendations at its Dec. 7 meeting in Portland.

Logo courtesy Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

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