its first hearing of the year, the two-state Columbia River Compact this week
set spring fishing for commercial select areas and tribal gillnetters, but with
fewer fish forecasted in 2017, the Compact took a conservative approach to
setting fishing periods.
spring chinook forecast – upriver and lower river chinook – is down 17 percent
to 227,890 fish from the 2016 actual run of 274,652 fish.
upriver summer chinook forecast is down about one-third, from an actual count
in 2016 of 91,048 to 63,100 this year.
combined Snake River spring/summer chinook is down about 18 percent to 95,800
from the actual count in 2016 of 116,282 fish. The forecast for Snake River
wild spring/summer chinook is 15,100, down about 39 percent from last year’s
actual count of 24,840.
sockeye salmon forecast is down about 44 percent, from last year’s actual run
of 354,466 to this year’s forecast of 198,500. Some 1,400 Snake River sockeye
are expected this year, similar to the 2016 actual Snake River sockeye return.
forecast returns are based on U.S. v Oregon Technical Advisory Committee run
reconstruction methodology and, at this point, is incomplete, according to the
Compact’s Winter Fact Sheet No. 1.
the forecasted smelt run is down 40 percent from last year’s 5,000,000 pounds to
an expected 3,000,000 pounds this year.
the Compact Winter Fact Sheet No. 1 (http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/OSCRP/CRM/FS/17/17_01_31wf1.pdf).
January 31 meeting was marred by several interruptions targeting commercial
gillnetters, causing Tucker Jones of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
to stop testimony to ask for respect and quiet from the more than 35 people on
the phone line.
interruptions occurred only during testimony by commercial gillnetters. That
could have been due to controversial changes to the two-state harvest reform
policy by the Oregon and Washington Fish and Wildlife commissions that would
continue to allow some gillnetting on the mainstem Columbia River. The policy,
which has been in transition since 2014, was to have entirely removed
gillnetters from the mainstem, and provide off-channel or select area fisheries
that result in less impact on upriver fish listed under the Endangered Species
CBB, January 27, 2017, “Oregon Harvest Reforms Differ From Washington In How
Much Gillnetting Allowed,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/438251.aspx
this first meeting, the Compact had a far-reaching agenda to set tribal white
sturgeon and gillnet periods in the Bonneville, The Dalles and John Day pools,
eulachon (smelt) commercial gillnetting in the lower Columbia River, and
periods for commercial select area (off-channel) gillnetting in the lower
abundance of white sturgeon in the pools behind the Columbia River’s lower
three dams has also declined and this year that is resulting in lower harvest
rates for tribal fishers as well as for sport fishers. All began fishing in
Sturgeon Management Task Force met January 25 to develop management
recommendations for 2017 white sturgeon fisheries in Bonneville, The Dalles,
and John Day pools, including potential modifications to harvest guidelines
based on updated population assessments, the Winter Fact Sheet says. Harvest
guidelines for Bonneville (325 each for treaty and recreational) and The Dalles
(325 for treaty and 100 for recreational) pools did not change, but they did
for the John Day Pool for the next three years as follows:
400 total including 295 treaty commercial and 105 recreational.
315 total including 210 treaty commercial and 105 recreational
280 total including 175 treaty commercial and 105 recreational
harvest so far this year in the Bonneville pool is just 5 percent (16 fish) of
the allocation as of January 29. The Dalles catch is 15 percent of the
allocation and the John Day catch is 7 percent.
smelt run into the lower Columbia River is expected to be considerably down
from last year’s run that tallied 5,000,000 pounds. This year just 3,000,000
pounds are expected.
in 2001, a Washington and Oregon Eulachon Management Plan provided guidance in
structuring smelt fisheries, identifying three levels of harvest based on
expected adult run size, juvenile production and ocean productivity. Level 1,
the level identified by the Compact to guide fishing this year, has the most
conservative harvest guidelines.
were listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act in 2010,
causing the states to shut down commercial and recreational fisheries. However,
the states have continued to work closely with NOAA Fisheries so that they can
reinstate a research-level smelt fishery that provides biological data, fishery
landing and catch per landing in pounds. The data is used to determine smelt
status and run strength and is being used to set commercial and, eventually,
perhaps recreational smelt fisheries.
are ESA-listed fish and the only species I know of where we have direct
harvest,” said Ron Roler of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“The harvest is (designed) to come up with some ideas to delist.”
year the commercial fishery was limited to eight 7-hour periods over four weeks
in February and March. Recreational smelting was allowed for just one day in
2016 in the Cowlitz River in Washington and the Sandy River in Oregon. Between
2014 and 2016, commercial fishers harvested somewhere between 4,820 pounds and
18,560 pounds per year, while tributary recreational smelt fishers gathered in
141,050 – 290,770 pounds.
week, the Compact opened commercial smelt fishing in zones 1 to 3 on the
Columbia River Mondays and Thursdays, 7 hours each day, from February 2 through
Washington nor Oregon is recommending recreational fishing in the Cowlitz or
Sandy rivers at this time.
are already filling the river, according to Gary Soderstrom, a commercial
gillnetter who fishes for smelt. He said the Columbia River and Gray’s River
have been full of smelt for several weeks, asking why commercial gillnetting
for the fish is set at the most conservative level.
taking away our bait market with the decline of sturgeon in recreational
fishing,” he said, pointing to a decline in sturgeon harvest. “This is a small
fishery, just a few of us can do it. There is no fishing unless there is a
market for the fish.”
Spring chinook salmon
US v Oregon management agreement specifies the non-Indian and Treaty fisheries
occurring prior to a run size update be managed for a run size that is at least
30 percent less than the predicted upriver spring chinook run size, the Winter
Fact Sheet says.
on the management agreement and the preseason forecast, ESA impacts for 2017
fisheries are limited to 10 percent. Some 1.7 percent of upriver spring chinook
salmon impacts go to commercial and recreational non-Indian fisheries and 8.3
percent go for treaty Indian fisheries.
accordance with the Columbia River Harvest Reform policies of both states, the
allowed ESA impacts to upriver spring chinook are allocated at 80 percent to
recreational fisheries and 20 percent to commercial fisheries.
Willamette River Fisheries Management Plan (the river is not a two-state shared
fishery, but it does include some harvest in the Columbia River) limits the ESA
impacts on wild Willamette River spring chinook to equal to or less than 15
to the Winter Fact Sheet, the Willamette River management plan includes a
sliding scale for escapement goals based on abundance of hatchery fish and that
determines the allocation of surplus hatchery spring chinook to recreational
and commercial fisheries downstream of Willamette Falls. The escapement goals
are also intended to allow for full recreational fisheries in the upper
total of 38,090 wild and hatchery spring chinook are forecasted for the
Willamette River. The harvestable surplus is 9,875 hatchery spring chinook
based on an expected return of 32,550 hatchery fish and an escapement goal (how
many fish must reach hatcheries) of 23,000 fish. The allocation downstream of
Willamette Falls is 9,550 for recreational anglers and 325 for commercial
Treaty Indian Winter Commercial Gillnet Fishery
tribes fished setlines during January and set a 6.5 day fishing period in the
John Day pool February 1 to February 7, and a 17.5 day period in The Dalles
pool February 1 to February 18, based on conservative catch potential this time
harvest guideline for the John Day pool is 295 spring chinook. A 3-year average
catch per day suggests the guideline would take 13 days to achieve.
harvest guideline in The Dalles pool is 325 fish. Based on a 3-year average
catch per day, that would take 44 days to achieve.
are no specific harvest limits for steelhead in winter season fisheries but the
steelhead catch is low in the winter season averaging 77 in The Dalles and John
Day Pools since 2001, according to the Winter Fact Sheet.
fishing will be allowed from February 1 to March 21.
Select Area Fisheries
area commercial fisheries have averaged 9,400 chinook annually (2012-2016),
including spring chinook during the winter and spring seasons (mid-February
through mid-June) and both spring chinook and early returning select area
bright fall chinook during the summer through July. Some 83 percent of fish
harvested originated in the select areas. The 2017 harvest is forecasted at
6,100 chinook. About 430 of those are expected to be upriver spring chinook.
in Blind Slough and Knappa Slough has minimal impacts on upriver fish,
according to the Fact Sheet. The Compact set several dates per week in February
and March for winter fishing and again several days a week in April, May and
June for spring fishing.
Compact also set winter and spring periods for Tongue Point and South Channel
select areas, as well as Deep River in Washington.
discovering that just 1 percent of 6-year old chinook would originate in Deep
River, Jones said he’s not excited about this fishery. “They are just picking
off upriver fish at this time of year, fish that aren’t local,” he said. “I’ll
hesitantly agree to this recommendation, but this has got to be the last year
of Deep River fishing.”
do have the potential to catch the 6-year fish,” Roler said. “The limitations
on commercial fisherman have been great as of late and I want to make sure they
have an opportunity….and, yes, this is the last year.”
Winter Fact Sheet says that the Compact staff worked with commercial
gillnetters to provide increased opportunity in the winter while minimizing the
risk of encountering upriver stocks during the late winter and early spring
timeframes. That includes:
winter fishing periods with reduced hours in March provide harvest opportunity,
while minimizing impacts to upriver stocks.
to 2016, the spring season opening is delayed in an attempt to minimize impacts
on upriver spring chinook, which have exhibited a later run timing in recent
spring fishery consisting of progressively increasing fishing time should
maximize harvest of local stocks while minimizing impacts to non-local stocks.
expanded Youngs Bay summer fishery provides significant additional harvest
opportunity while allowing for select area bright broodstock escapement.
January 31 Compact Action Notice is at
December 16, 2016, “Early Fish Forecast: Lower Returns Than Last Year Expected
For Spring/Summer Chinook, Sockeye,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/438095.aspx