The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission during a Jan. 21 conference call approved tighter conservation guidelines for Columbia River sturgeon fisheries and elected Miranda Wecker and Gary Douvia to second terms as chair and vice-chair, respectively.
The proposed sturgeon guidelines support reductions in harvest rates for white sturgeon downriver from Bonneville Dam that have shown a marked decline in abundance over the past three to five years.
Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon have advocated reducing the catch by at least 30 percent over the next three years, following on the heels of a 40 percent reduction during the 2010 fishing season.
Catch levels and fishing seasons for this year will be determined by representatives of the two states at a Feb. 8 meeting of the Columbia River Compact in Oregon City.
The commission, which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, directed agency staff to ensure that new harvest guidelines:
-- Address the downward trend in the abundance of fish that meet legal catch requirements.
-- Account for increased predation by sea lions.
-- Provide stability for Columbia River fisheries.
A 30 percent reduction would cap the total catch at 17,000 legal-size fish, down from 24,000 in 2010. As in past years, 80 percent of the allowable harvest will be reserved for the sport fishery and 20 percent for the commercial fishery.
In other business, the commission elected Miranda Wecker of Naselle to a second two-year term as commission chair. Vice-chair Gary Douvia, of Kettle Falls, was also elected to a second term in that position.
Wecker, director of the Marine Program at the University of Washington Olympic Natural Resources Center, was appointed to the commission in 2007 and has served as chair since 2008. Her term on the commission expires Dec. 31, 2012.
Douvia, a financial consultant, was also appointed to the commission in 2007 and has served a two-year term as vice chair. His term on the commission also expires Dec. 31, 2012.