today, March 17, when the Oregon Fish and Wildlife commission meets, Columbia
River salmon harvest rules will likely look similar in both Oregon and
Washington, bringing both states into closer compliance with 2013 legislation
that was intended to have completely removed commercial gillnetting from the
river’s mainstem and allocate more fish to recreational anglers by the first of
the Oregon Commission in January extended rather than ended mainstem
gillnetting, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission also reset its harvest
reform rules, but the Washington rules contained far less gillnetting and
within two years gave recreational anglers the allocations called for in the
Oregon Commission’s January 20 decision, which it called “Enhanced Commercial
Rebalance,” did eliminate gillnets from spring fisheries, but not in other
seasons, according to a Commission announcement. The rebalance differed
substantially from the policy adopted by the Washington Commission and could
have led to significant enforcement issues for the two-state Columbia River
Compact as it sets in-season harvest regulations this year.
it caused a backlash from a sport fishing industry that felt it had been
betrayed by the Oregon Commission that allowed gillnetting to continue in the
river. Some asked for a refund of the $9 annual Columbia River Endorsement Fee
that has gone to offset some of the costs of transitioning gillnets off the mainstem
river, some demanded the resignation of Commissioners who voted for the
Enhanced Commercial Rebalance and many said they would never again purchase an
Oregon angling license.
anglers have held up our end of the reform plan," said a petition signed
by 5,891 anglers from the Association of Northwest Steelheaders. "We've
transferred smolts from our Willamette and Sandy river systems, paid our
endorsement fee to transition gill-nets off the mainstem Columbia, and were
promised a fair allocation of the public's resource that save wild salmon and
steelhead while prioritizing sportfishing opportunity and economics."
comment is at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/agency/commission/minutes/17/03_march/Exhibit%20G_Attachment%2011_Public%20Correspondence.pdf
a February 9 letter, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown urged Commission chair Michael
Finley to “adopt rules that clearly match policy and law in the state of Oregon
and the policies of my administration,” saying that the policy enacted by the
Washington Commission was consistent with her request, and clarified that
non-concurrence was unacceptable and would “make enforcement complicated,
confusing and untenable, and put at risk ongoing funding and bi-state
cooperation necessary for fishery reforms.”
expected the Commission to revise the rules by April 3, 2017.
CBB, February 17, 2017, “ODFW Reopens Harvest Rules Focused On Phasing Out
Mainstem Gillnets Below Bonneville.” http://www.cbbulletin.com/438356.aspx)
as a result of Brown’s directive, the Oregon Commission today will instead act
on her request to reach concurrence with Washington harvest reform regulations.
original harvest reform policy, required by Oregon Senate Bill 830, called for
the removal of all commercial gillnets from the mainstem Columbia River
downstream of Bonneville Dam by December 31, 2016.
as rules 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.
policy also called for increasing hatchery releases in these areas, while
expanding commercial fishing opportunities through the use of alternative
reform included a four-year transition period, with full implementation that
was to begin January 1, 2017, but it also allowed for modifications to the
a summary that makes the case for concurrent state regulations prepared for the
Commission meeting today, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife staff
outlined the four basic differences between the two states that could lead to
rules allow for a spring mainstem tangle-net fisheries after an early May
run-update if impacts are not needed in off-channel fisheries. The Washington
policy does not.
rules allow summer mainstem gillnets. Washington policy does not.
rules have a 66 percent/34 percent sport/commercial allocation of fall chinook
impacts. Washington policy has an initial 75percent/25 percent sport/commercial
allocation for 2 years then shifts to 80 percent/20 percent, as required by the
harvest reform policy.
rules do not have a sunset provision for gillnets in mainstem Zones 4 and 5
during fall fisheries. Washington includes a 2-year sunset provision for
gillnets on the mainstem.
ODFW staff summary is at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/agency/commission/minutes/17/03_march/Exhibit%20G_Attachment%201_Agenda%20Item%20Summary.pdf
differences in state rules bring risks, according to the staff report.
on the water, enforcement agencies can only enforce their own state’s
reciprocity agreements could be voided.
Columbia River fisheries is complex and allocations, gear requirements, season
structures, all have far-reaching effects, ODFW staff said. “One possible
outcome of significant non-concurrence could be a subdivision between the two
states of the overall allocation, which would then be allocated per individual
state policy and/or rule, in individual state waters within the Columbia, and
managed per individual state policy and/or rule. The end result of which could
be a fishery that overlaps in both time and space but had separate gears
fishing with separate landing requirements.”
regulations can increase the risk of losing significant economic value of
bi-state managed fisheries.
the January 20 Commission meeting, ODFW staff had recommended a “rebalance”
plan that was similar to that enacted the same month by the Washington
Commission. Gov. Brown had identified each of those – the staff plan and
Washington’s plan – as options that would meet her criteria to provide “a clear
and enforceable path forward” and the staff designed its new recommendation
with that in mind.
differences between the January staff “rebalance” recommendation and the
current rules set by the Commission January 20, according to a staff summary,
Use of summer mainstem gillnets: staff recommended no, Commission voted yes.
An emphasis on a conservation fishery: staff recommended more, Commission voted
A fall sport closure off Youngs Bay in Astoria: staff recommended no,
Commission voted yes.
A fall chinook allocation: staff recommended 70/30, Commission voted 66/34.
differences between the January staff recommendation and the Washington
Commission’s adopted rules are:
Mainstem tangle nets allowed in spring: staff recommended yes, Washington voted
Conservation fishery emphasis: staff recommended more, Washington voted less.
Fall chinook allocation: staff recommended 70/30, Washington voted 75/25 first
two years and 80/20 after.
Removal of fall mainstem gillnets after two years: staff recommended no,
Washington voted yes.
additional changes the ODFW staff is making today to its initial rebalance
March recommendation retains the sport closure off Youngs Bay because it has
not been an issue of non-concurrence in the past and aligns with current rules.
Adds more spring chinook to off-channel areas to help improve commercial
Includes an allocated conservation fishery targeting lower river hatchery fish
Provides a reaffirmed emphasis on Commission support for improving survival of
upriver wild and hatchery fish through the Federal Columbia River Power System.
Commission will meet today, 8:30 am, Friday, March 17 at the Benton County
Fairgrounds (Guerber Hall, 110 SE 53rd Street, Corvallis) to reconsider their
rules on Columbia River Fisheries Reform adopted Jan. 20. The agenda is at
Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission meets today and tomorrow, March 17 and
18, in Olympia. Harvest reform is not on the Commission’s agenda
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