Allocation set for Columbia
Spring Chinook Fisheries
Following the direction of the Washington and Oregon
fish and wildlife commissions, the directors of the states' fish
and wildlife departments today announced that sport anglers in
the Columbia River spring chinook fishery will be allowed 60 percent
of the incidental impacts to upriver fish listed under the Endangered
Species Act and commercial fishers will get 40 percent.
In reaching their decision, the officials noted
that fisheries managers are to approach season planning with these
percentages as hard targets. Both states directed the sport and
commercial fisheries to be closely held to the agreed-upon percentage
allocation. However, as in any fishery, a minimal amount of flexibility
will be allowed to respond to unanticipated changes in run timing,
river conditions or other factors, the commissions agreed.
"These fisheries are set very conservatively
to protect wild fish-while allowing harvest opportunity for healthy,
hatchery stocks," said Washington Department of Fish and
Wildlife (WDFW) Director Jeff Koenings, Ph.D. "As always,
conservation is paramount in conducting sustainable fisheries."
The allocation figures will be used to set fishing
seasons for what is expected to be the second-largest spring chinook
run on record. Those seasons will be determined Thursday, Feb.
5, in a Columbia River Compact meeting in Oregon City, Ore.
In addition to setting the upriver-impact allocation,
the directors reiterated the importance of avoiding conflicts
between recreational and commercial fishers when setting seasons.
The directors agreed pre-season planners need to emphasize commercial
fishing opportunities earlier in February and March to avoid gear
conflicts, as much as possible, with anglers during recreational
seasons in April.
The allocation figures reflect how the allowable
impact on wild fish is shared between non-tribal sport and commercial
fishers. Although all fishers target hatchery-produced chinook,
some wild fish are inadvertently caught and die from handling
stress. Upper Columbia and Snake River wild spring chinook are
federally protected under the Endangered Species Act and the allowable
"impact" on wild fish is limited to 2 percent of the
wild run in non-tribal fisheries.
Koenings and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
(ODFW) Director Lindsay Ball stressed that pre-season planning
for the spring chinook fisheries also should be based on a federally-established
limit of 2 percent incidental impact to wild steelhead. This figure
reflects incidental catches of wild steelhead that occur as the
steelhead co-mingle with spring chinook during a portion of the
Koenings and Ball credited past efforts to develop
selective fisheries for the opportunities that await anglers this
season. Noting that avoiding impacts on wild steelhead will be
emphasized in setting upcoming fishing seasons, the directors
called on commercial spring chinook fishers to step up efforts
to avoid handling wild steelhead.
"The commercial fishery has come a long way
in becoming selective, but we want to continue to work with the
industry to be creative in finding ways to avoid handling steelhead,"
Koenings said. "In doing so, we are creating the stable,
sustainable fishery so necessary to develop high-value harvests."
This year's total run of Columbia River spring chinook
is predicted to be the second-highest on record since counting
began in 1938 at Bonneville Dam. More than 497,000 wild and hatchery
spring chinook are forecast to enter the Columbia River this year.
Koenings also credited federal funding for Columbia
River hatchery operations as an important factor in providing
overall fishing opportunity, but noted the federal Mitchell Act
funding that mitigates negative effects of the hydropower system
is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain.
Look for other articles in our Article
If you got to this page from a link and would
like to view the rest of our site click here.