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Summer Chinook, Sockeye Runs Downgraded; Treaty Commercial Fishery Extended
Posted on Friday, July 21, 2017 (PST)

As the runs of summer chinook and sockeye wind down, their forecasted run sizes were updated one last time by the U.S. v Oregon Technical Advisory Committee.

 

The chinook run size, which last week stood at 74,100 upper Columbia River summer chinook, this week was set as a final run size by TAC at its Monday, July 17 meeting, at 68,700 fish, according to the Compact Summer Fact Sheet No. 5 (http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/OSCRP/CRM/FS/17/17_07_18sf5.pdf), which was presented this week at the Tuesday, July 18 two-state Columbia River Compact hearing. The preseason forecast was 63,100 summer chinook.

 

TAC also downgraded the sockeye salmon run to 88,200 fish as measured at the Columbia River mouth. The preseason forecast was 198,500 sockeye, with 1,400 of those fish thought to be Snake River sockeye listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. TAC had previously downgraded the run to 90,400 fish.

 

“Preliminary analysis of the age composition of the 2017 sockeye run suggests that the 1-ocean and 3-ocean age components of the run were similar if not slightly above their preseason forecasts, but the 2-ocean age component was less than a third of its preseason forecast,” the Fact Sheet says. “These 2-ocean age sockeye would have encountered the poor ocean conditions of 2015 in their migration year.”

 

The summer management period runs from June 16 through July 31, according to the Fact Sheet. Chinook salmon passing Bonneville Dam or harvested during this time period are managed as Upper Columbia summer chinook. The sockeye run size includes any Columbia River sockeye no matter when it returns or passes Bonneville Dam.

 

Both runs are nearing completion and TAC does not expect to meet again during the summer management period. TAC will reconvene in early August to begin reviewing salmonid returns for the fall management period.

 

This week the Compact extended Treaty commercial gillnetting eight more days: 3.5 days July 19 to July 22 and 4.5 days July 24 to July 28. See the July 18 Compact Action Notice at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/OSCRP/CRM/CAN/17/170718_notice.pdf

 

For some of those days, the Tribes plan to lift the mesh restriction on nets (currently, they are restricted to 7 inch nets). That will result in about 500 additional sockeye caught, assuming that some of the 250 boats that are expected to fish use nets smaller than 7 inches.

 

However, the run of sockeye is expected to continue to decline the next couple of weeks, as will the effort to fish for sockeye. According to Roger Dick of the Yakama Nation, most of the gillnetters will continue fishing for chinook, which bring a better price per pound than sockeye, so he doesn’t expect much change in the catch of sockeye.

 

“The reason we are removing the restriction is that we have a good number of fish left in our quotas,” Dick said.

 

Based on the updated run size forecasts and the US v Oregon Management Agreement, Tribes are allocated 19,200 summer chinook and 6,174 sockeye. There is no specific harvest limit for steelhead, although harvest is generally low in the summer, the Fact Sheet says. “So far the steelhead run is tracking below the expectation for a normally timed run at the preseason forecast size (112,100 A-index and 7,300 B-Index steelhead). The actual run size will be difficult to estimate until the run is closer to 50 percent complete which typically occurs near the middle of August.”

 

Tribal gillnetters, platform and hook and line fishers caught 13,257 chinook, 4,250 sockeye and 214 steelhead (about 29 percent of those are wild fish) through July 15, according to Jon Hes, fishery scientist in the Fisheries Management division of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission.

 

Hes said the additional fishing time will add 3,100 chinook, 800 sockeye and 600 steelhead to the totals, which by the end of day July 28 is estimated to be 16,357 chinook, 5,050 sockeye and 814 steelhead.

 

Remaining in the Tribes’ allocation is 2,843 chinook and 1,124 sockeye, which will be reserved for the platform and hook and line fisheries through the summer season, Hes said. The Tribes will not ask for more gillnetting during the summer season.

 

Through July 17, 56,584 adult summer chinook had been counted at Bonneville Dam. That is somewhat above expectations based on the pre-season forecast.

 

Through July 17, 85,954 sockeye had been counted at Bonneville Dam which is well below expectations based on the pre-season forecast. Last year on July 17, some 336,398 sockeye had passed the dam and the 10-year average is 309,863 fish.

 

TAC has not said how many of the sockeye this year are destined for the Snake River. Some 372 have passed Ice Harbor Dam, the lower of the four lower Snake River dams. Last year 841 had passed by July 17 and the 10-year average is 806. Lower Granite Dam passage, the upper of the lower Snake River dams, was 189. Last year the count on July 17 was 698 and the 10-year average is 738.

 

A fall Compact hearing is scheduled for 1:00 PM Thursday July 27, 2017 at the new Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife office (5525 S 11th Street, Ridgefield, Washington 98642) to consider fall season Select Area commercial and Treaty fisheries.

 

Also see:

 

--CBB, July 14, 2017, “Harvest Managers Approve More Tribal Fishing, Concerns Expressed Over Low Sockeye, Summer Steelhead,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/439267.aspx

 

--CBB, July 7, 2017, “Summer Chinook Fishing Resumes Below Bonneville, Wild Summer Steelhead Passage To Date Very Low,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/439220.aspx

 

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