The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission voted last week
to implement the next phase of the state's reform policy on Columbia River
salmon management, including updates to provisions for fall chinook salmon.
The updated policy builds on a joint strategy by Washington
and Oregon to restructure recreational and commercial salmon fisheries on the
Columbia River below Bonneville Dam.
Adopted by both the Washington and Oregon commissions in
2013, the policy was designed to promote conservation of salmon and steelhead,
prioritize recreational salmon fishing in the lower Columbia River, and
transition gillnet fisheries into off-channel areas by Dec. 31, 2016. The
policy also calls for increasing hatchery releases in these areas, while
expanding commercial fishing opportunities through the use of alternative
The policy included a four-year transition period, with full
implementation scheduled for January 1, 2017, but also allowed for
modifications to the plan.
The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to
set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, voted to
implement most of the key provisions of the current policy but modified the
allocation of fall chinook salmon between the recreational and commercial
The modification increases the recreational fishery's share
of fall chinook from 70 to 75 percent for the next two years, before increasing
to 80 percent in 2019. Originally the policy called for the allocation to
increase to 80 percent in 2017. The updated policy also would explicitly allow
a mainstem commercial gillnet fishery for upriver bright fall chinook upstream
from the confluence of the Lewis River in 2017 and 2018, but requires improved
"While we have made a couple changes to the policy for
the next two years, we are committed to full implementation, meeting
conservation goals and transitioning gillnets into off-channels areas,"
said Larry Carpenter, vice-chair of the commission.
The commission approved fully implementing the current
policy's planned allocation shift for spring chinook, increasing the
recreational fishery's share of the stock from 70 to 80 percent beginning this
year. The allocation of summer chinook for the recreational fishery also will
increase from 70 to 80 percent this year.
In addition, the commission directed staff to move forward
with developing and implementing the use of alternative commercial fishing gear
by 2019, and aggressively pursue a buyback program for commercial gillnet
The updated policy is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/. The
commission January 13 and 14 agenda, along with the summary and presentation by
WDFW staff to the commission is available at
Meanwhile, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet
today, Jan. 20, to consider similar changes to the Columbia River Fishery
The Oregon Commission is expected to consider rulemaking for
long-term implementation of the non-tribal Columbia River fisheries reform policy.
At its December meeting, the Commission voted to extend the
transition period of the reform policy through 2017, as a hedge against further
restrictions on the commercial fishery should the issue not be resolved at its
At today’s meeting, the Commission will consider a long-term
staff proposal that would prioritize the conservation benefits of fisheries
reform as well as rebalance current harvest and impact allocations.
The proposal is based on balancing key provisions of fisheries
reform and has been informed by the four-year transition period and
consultations with the state of Washington, which has concurrent jurisdiction
over Columbia River fisheries.
The commission agenda and ODFW staff proposal is available
--CBB, December 9, 2016, “Washington, Oregon Fish/Wildlife
Commissions On Parallel Course With Columbia River Harvest Reform,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/438069.aspx
--CBB, December 2, 2016, “Washington, Oregon Fish/Wildlife
Commissions Considering Next Moves On Lower River Gillnetting,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/438043.aspx
--CBB, November 4, 2016, “Oregon Commission To Review
Columbia River Harvest Reforms, May Consider Extending Mainstem Gillnets,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/437921.aspx
--CBB, April 22, 2016, “Oregon Commission Hears Review Of
Fishing Reforms Banning Lower Columbia Gillnetters From Mainstem,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/436546.aspx
--CBB, June 7, 2013, “Oregon ‘Re-Adopts’ Lower Columbia
Commercial Gill-Net Ban; Slew Of Uncertainties Remain,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/426937.aspx