Oregon and Washington fishery managers decided Tuesday that the white sturgeon retention season for anglers on the lower Columbia River upstream of the Wauna powerlines will not open Oct. 20 as planned.
According to Steve Williams, deputy administrator of ODFW’s Fish Division, fewer than 100 fish remain available for harvest in the area between the Wauna power lines, located at about river mile 42, near Cathlamet, Wash., and Bonneville Dam, at river mile 146.
That’s not enough fish to allow the season to open as planned. A joint state panel opted Tuesday to rescind the previously adopted white sturgeon retention season scheduled for Oct. 20-Dec. 31 in the area from Wauna powerlines upstream to Bonneville Dam.
The sturgeon shortfall is the result of greater than expected catches in the lower Columbia estuary fishery and also for the first six months of the year upstream of the Wauna power lines. During that time anglers harvested an estimated 1,860 fish, or 89 percent of the 2,080-fish quota, during 23,000 angler trips.
“Effort and catch rates were considerably higher from January through July this year than what we saw in 2011,” according to John North, fisheries manager for ODFW’s Ocean Salmon and Columbia River Program. “That is a positive sign but unfortunately it resulted in most of the annual quota for this area being used early in the season.”
The lower Willamette River and the mainstem Columbia River remain open for catch-and-release sturgeon from the mouth to the Oregon/Washington border. Retention remains open Thursday-Saturday in The Dalles Pool until the 300 fish annual guideline is met.
The lawsuit also challenges mercury TMDL that DEQ established for the Willamette River for what the NWEA says is as failure to protect fish, wildlife, and human health.