than one week after the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted changes
to its Columbia River Fisheries Reform policy that reduced the time commercial
gillnetting would be allowed on the lower river, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife
Commission adopted changes to its own policy – and the states’ policies are not
decision by Oregon, Friday, January 20, allows more commercial gillnetting in
the fall than Washington and, unlike Washington’s two-year policy, it does not
identify an end date. Instead, Oregon’s rules will remain in place until the
Commission takes further action on fisheries reform.
reform policy builds on a joint strategy by Washington and Oregon to
restructure recreational and commercial salmon fisheries on the Columbia River
below Bonneville Dam. However, in just one week the two commissions adopted
very different policies calling into question how commercial and recreational
fisheries will be managed on that part of the Columbia River that forms the
border between the two states.
to last week’s decisions, the reform policies for each state were similar,
making for concurrent management of recreational and commercial fisheries
through the two-state Columbia River Compact. It’s unknown now how that
management will proceed.
Commission discussed the issue at length with staff during the meeting,” said
Chris Kern, Deputy Fish Chief with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“As of right now, Oregon and Washington agency staffs will be coordinating to
see what the combined actions look like for 2017 fisheries.”
said the decision for the spring season between the two states is very similar
and he doesn’t “envision significant issues of non-concurrence in the next few
the commissions agreed on harvest allocations for summer (80 percent will go to
the recreational fishery and 20 percent to commercial) so there should be no
issues on the sport side for summer, though the two states have different
commercial gear allowances for that season.
season will require work between the agencies, due to the difference in
allocations,” Kern said (Oregon gives 66 percent to anglers and 34 percent to
gillnetters, while Washington’s allocation is 75/25 percent). “We have not
determined exactly what process we will use to discuss this with Washington,
but we are working on that. We have had non-concurrence issues before (though
I’d say of a lesser degree), and we’ve worked them out.”
by both the Washington and Oregon commissions in 2013, the initial 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 or select areas by Dec. 31, 2016. The policy also
called for increasing hatchery releases in these areas, while expanding
commercial fishing opportunities through the use of alternative fishing gear.
policy included a four-year transition period, with full implementation that
was to begin January 1, 2017, but it also allowed for modifications to the
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife staff showed the commission that
transitioning directly into full implementation would result in economic harm
to commercial gillnetters. Staff said that full implementation would not
enhance the viability of commercial fisheries, would not optimize economics for
the region, nor would it result in adequate conservation benefits.
of moving all commercial gillnetting into selected areas, mostly in the lower
Columbia River, the Oregon commission voted to continue to allow some
commercial gillnet fishing on the mainstem river during the summer and fall,
and it increased commercial fishing in the fall, decisions the commission said
in a news release “will likely create non-concurrent regulations with the State
Oregon legislator said of the commission’s decisions that “there will be
consequences,” according to a January 25th article in the Oregonian.
all trying to figure out what we can do," said Sen. Fred Girod
(R-Stayton). "I can guarantee there's going to be a dog fight." He’s
considering legislation to either outlaw gillnetting or charging commercial
gillnetters a fee to fish the river.
Hamilton, executive director of the Northwest Sportsfishing Industry
Association, said Oregon's commission “chose to turn the clock back. This is
such a slap in the face," she said of the vote, citing the $9.75 fee
sports fisherman pay to use the Columbia River as another way sports anglers
shoulder a heavier burden, the Oregonian said.
changes to Oregon’s reform policy and how those changes mesh with ODFW staff
fisheries will be allocated 80 percent for spring and summer chinook; the
commercial fishery allocation will be 20 percent. Commercial fishing with
tangle nets will be allowed on the mainstem river in spring. (These measures
match the ODFW staff recommendations.)
commercial fishing with large mesh gillnets will be allowed in the summer.
(This is not a staff recommendation nor does it match the Washington
commission’s new policy.)
this time, however, the Oregon staff does not have a gear we would recommend
for use in the summer to fill that season as an alternative to gillnets,” Kern
said. “Our recommendation sets up a need to develop such gears, with the
allocation for fall chinook is 66 percent for recreational fisheries and 34
percent for commercial fisheries. Gillnets will be allowed in Zones 4 and 5
(Warrior Rock at St. Helens to Bonneville Dam) and coho tangle nets will be
allowed in Zones 1 through 3 (all lower river zones). (ODFW staff recommended
70 percent allocation for anglers.)
Youngs Bay “control zone” fishery closure will remain in place. Recreational
anglers had pressed to remove this limitation which is a nonfishing buffer zone
between the Buoy 10 fishery and Youngs Bay, a select area fishery. (ODFW staff
recommended removing the closure.)
of the barbless hook requirement for lower Willamette River and Oregon
off-channel recreational fisheries. (This is consistent with ODFW staff
enhancement in off-channel areas for commercial harvest. (This is consistent
with ODFW staff recommendations.)
spring chinook production to Oregon Select Area Fishery Evaluation (SAFE)
areas. One of the issues with allowing the initial fisheries reform policy to
take its course January 1 was that juvenile salmon production from hatcheries
had not yet reached the number of releases that would assure adequate commercial
catch. (This is consistent with ODFW staff recommendations.)
the other hand, the Washington commission last week voted to implement most of
the key provisions of the current policy but modified some parts:
allocation of fall chinook salmon between the recreational and commercial
fisheries changed. The commission increased the recreational fishery's share of
fall chinook from 70 to 75 percent for the next two years, giving gillnetters a
25 percent share. In 2019 the recreational share rises to 80 percent. The
original policy called for the recreational allocation to go to 80 percent
January 1, 2017.
Oregon commission gave 66 percent of the fall chinook impacts to anglers and 34
percent to gillnetters.)
updated Washington 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 fisheries monitoring.
adopted a similar policy for commercial gillnetting, but will allow tangle nets
in the mainstem downstream of the Lewis River).
completed the shift of the initial policy for spring chinook, increasing
anglers’ share from 70 to 80 percent beginning this year.
also increased anglers’ share to 80 percent.)
allocation of summer chinook for the recreational fishery also will increase
from 70 to 80 percent this year.
also increased anglers’ share to 80 percent.)
addition, the Washington commission directed staff to move forward with
developing and implementing the use of alternative commercial fishing gear by
2019 (so did Oregon), and aggressively pursue a buyback program for commercial
gillnet licenses (Oregon did not).
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 are available at
materials from the commission’s January 20 meeting, including ODFW staff
recommendations and draft administrative rules, are at
Oregon’s updated policy is at http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/pages/rules/oars_600/oar_635/635_500.html.
commission vice-chair Larry Carpenter said that it is “committed to full
implementation, meeting conservation goals and transitioning gillnets into
Oregon commission did not make that commitment and instead left the end date of
its new policy open.
January 19, 2017, “Washington Votes To Move Forward With Columbia River Harvest
Changes, Oregon To Consider Similar Plan,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/438209.aspx
December 9, 2016, “Washington, Oregon Fish/Wildlife Commissions On Parallel
Course With Columbia River Harvest Reform,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/438069.aspx
December 2, 2016, “Washington, Oregon Fish/Wildlife Commissions Considering
Next Moves On Lower River Gillnetting,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/438043.aspx
November 4, 2016, “Oregon Commission To Review Columbia River Harvest Reforms,
May Consider Extending Mainstem Gillnets,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/437921.aspx
April 22, 2016, “Oregon Commission Hears Review Of Fishing Reforms Banning
Lower Columbia Gillnetters From Mainstem,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/436546.aspx
June 7, 2013, “Oregon ‘Re-Adopts’ Lower Columbia Commercial Gill-Net Ban; Slew
Of Uncertainties Remain,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/426937.aspx