an apparent response to a letter sent Feb. 9 to Oregon Fish and Wildlife
Commission chair Michael Finley from Gov. Kate Brown, the Oregon Fish and
Wildlife Department staff reopened the Commission’s January 20 harvest reform
Commission decision allowed for more commercial gillnetting on the mainstem
Columbia River than was proposed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
staff. It also allowed more gillnetting than did Washington’s recently adopted
ODFW staff recommendation, too, was a deviation from the original harvest
reform policy, required by Oregon Senate Bill 830. That legislation called for
the removal of all commercial gillnets from the mainstem Columbia River
downstream of Bonneville Dam by December 31, 2016.
by both the Washington and Oregon commissions in 2013, the initial harvest
reform 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.
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
in the Feb. 9 letter, said the rules adopted for the non-tribal Lower Columbia
River fishery reforms by the Commission last month were “not acceptable” and
she directly asked for the rules to be reversed.
she said, “the rules should clearly match policy and law in the state of Oregon
and the policy of my administration.” She gave the Commission until April 3 to
make the changes.
further noted that the policy adopted by the Oregon Commission did not match
the policy adopted a week earlier by the state of Washington and that
“Non-concurrence between the two states is not acceptable.”
response, ODFW staff called an ad hoc last minute meeting February 14 of what
it called the Columbia River Fisheries Reform Rules Advisory Committee to
“consider new staff recommendations designed to ensure orderly fisheries with
Washington” and to help design rules the Commission could consider at its March
17 meeting in Corvallis.
committee included four representatives from sports fishing (all in the
Commission meeting room) and three from commercial fishing interests, who were
all on the phone.
rulemaking and adopting Harvest Reform rules, the Oregon Commission directed
the agency to work with Washington,” Ed Bowles, head of the fish division at
ODFW, told the new committee. “Also, Governor Kate Brown laid out her
expectations of a more orderly fisheries with the state of Washington.”
added that ODFW director Curt Melcher said that he would be reopening
rulemaking and wants to bring proposed new rules to the regularly scheduled
Commission meeting March 17.
to an ODFW news release announcing the committee meeting, the “Commission may
adopt rules after consideration of additional information and/or further
analysis that has occurred since Jan. 20, 2017, to address, among other
considerations, whether modifications to existing rules are necessary to
“[p]romote orderly fishery management with the State of Washington.” See ORS
rules advisory committee will meet to provide the Department its
recommendations on (1) the text of potential rule(s) and (2) the fiscal impact
of potential rule(s) in terms of (a) whether there will be a fiscal impact; (b)
extent of it; and (c) how to reduce that impact on small businesses, if any, in
a manner consistent with the public health and safety purpose of the rule(s).”
department director for the committee, Michael Harrington, said it is state
policy to include the public in rulemaking when possible, adding that he wanted
to hear about the fiscal impacts of any policy considered.
the rules advisory committee gave very little guidance on fiscal impacts other
than to react to staff fiscal impact assessments, mostly because it was given
very little time (less than one day) to study ODFW proposals.
24-hour notice is unfair,” said Steve Fick, representing fish packers. “No
emergency exists and it is not good government. And, we saw the new rules from
staff just 20 minutes ago.”
Jones, Ocean Salmon and Columbia River program manager at ODFW, laid out the
impacts of several options, including the staff-recommended rebalance option,
the final Washington Commission decision and the final option chosen by the
Commission January 20, which included more commercial gillnetting on the river
than either of the other two options.
Washington Commission decision does not allow gillnet fishing in the mainstem
Columbia River in the spring, but does allow recreational anglers to take 80
percent of the allowable Endangered Species Act impacts and gives 20 percent of
those impacts to commercial off-channel gillnetting.
Species Act impacts are intended to protect wild ESA-listed fish during harvest
periods. For example, based on the management agreement and the preseason
forecast of spring chinook salmon, ESA impacts for 2017 fisheries are limited
to just 10 percent of the listed fish.
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, then, would be allowed 80 percent of the 1.7 percent of fish, while
commercial fisheries would be allowed 20 percent of the 1.7 percent.
managers, through in-season management, begin to limit harvest numbers and
fishing periods when the ESA impacts approach their limits.
Oregon Commission plan, like Washington’s, is also an 80/20 ESA impact split
but would allow a small commercial mainstem fishery with tangle nets.
summer, the Washington Commission set an 80/20 split on ESA impacts and doesn’t
allow commercial gillnetting.
Oregon Commission is also an 80/20 split for the summer, but of the 20 percent
for commercial catch, it would designate 5 percent for off-channel areas and 15
percent to mainstem with large mesh gillnets.
fishing in Washington is a 75/25 split on ESA impacts and coho tangle nets are
allowed in commercial fishing zones 1 to 3, and mainstem gillnets in zones 4-5
for two years with enhanced monitoring, while continuing alternative gear
assessments with a presumptive replacement at the end of two years. The
decision allows beach and purse seine fisheries in zones 1 – 5, and calls for
an aggressive buyback of commercial licenses.
set a 66/34 ESA split in the fall, allowing mainstem commercial fishing with
gillnets in zones 4 – 5 and coho tangle nets in zones 1 -3, similar to
Washington. Oregon would also implement a fall conservation fishery, but less
than the staff recommendation, and add releases totaling 500,000 spring chinook
juveniles to Gnat Creek, 390,000 coho at current Oregon off-channel sites, and
250,000 each to Westport and Coal Creek in Oregon, all to enhance off-channel
commercial fishing. In addition, Oregon allows barbed hooks in the off-channel
sports fishery and it removed a closure at Youngs Bay that had been set to
protect the commercial fishery.
staff-recommended rebalance option was similar to the Washington Commission’s
the Washington decision phases out mainstem gillnetting after two years and
gives recreational fishing a priority, it doesn’t enhance the viability of the
commercial fishery, nor does it optimize regional economics and the
conservation benefits are inadequate, Jones said.
features were required by the original legislation, SB 830.
does, however, optimize angler trips, raising those trips to almost 429,000.
For the commercial side, ex-vessel value is $4.3 million, far lower than if the
reform policy was not in place where ex-vessel value is $5.75 million, and the
overall economic value is $34.09 million. No policy would have resulted in an
overall economic value of $34.61 million.
trips for the ODFW rebalance plan is just over 427,000, with an ex-vessel value
of $5.38 million and an overall economic impact of $35.51 million.
Oregon Commission decision had 425,600 angler trips, an ex-vessel value of
$5.87 million, the highest of the three plans, and an overall economic value of
decided not to go with the staff recommendation,” said Randy Wolsey of the
Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association. “Because of that, ODFW is
receiving funding threats from the legislature. The people of Oregon who are
paying the bills want (the Harvest Reform) enacted and the Governor’s letter
added that the Washington Commission action a week earlier was a compromise,
allowing a two-year period to test alternative gear for commercial gillnetters,
and sportfishers could approve that.
will do anything to get back on the policy (referring to Senate Bill 830)
that’s been paid for the past three years (referring to a more than $9 annual
fee each sportfisher has paid to fund the transition). We prefer the original
staff recommendation. There are parts I’m not excited about, but given the
suite of what is offered here, this would get us to the two-state concurrence.”
fishing advocates wanted to stay with the current Oregon Commission decision
which allowed them more gillnetting time on the mainstem river.
that concurrence is not a real issue since most of the river is in Oregon, Fick
said there is a strong case we don’t need concurrence. “We need to see what’s
best for the state of Oregon,” he said, and “that certainly is not going down
the road two years and cutting off commercial fishing. We have nothing more to
give up. I suggest you educate the governor.”
said the plan adopted by the Commission is the best for the state and keeps at
least some aspect of commercial fishing.
Brown also came down on the side of the staff-recommended rebalance option that
would be much closer to concurrence with Washington.
and Washington have invested a great deal of time and effort in resolving
conflicts and providing uncertainty for fisheries in the lower Columbia River,”
she wrote in her letter. “It is the policy of my administration to honor those
commitments. Honoring those commitments means adhering to the intent of Senate
Bill 830, adopting regulations and rules concurrent with the state of
Washington, and providing clarity, unity, and enforceability in the rules that
govern the Columbia River.”
added that the staff-recommended proposal and the decision by the Washington
Commission balanced these interests.
January 27, 2017, “Oregon Harvest Reforms Differ From Washington In How Much
Gillnetting Allowed,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/438251.aspx
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