Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will allow gillnets in the lower
Columbia River mainstem during the fall chinook salmon season, similar to a
regulation on commercial fishing already adopted by the Oregon Fish and
Wildlife Commission last year.
change to Washington’s Columbia River salmon policy will be for this year only,
2019, and will give more time for Oregon and Washington to develop together a
long-term policy for shared Columbia River waters from the river’s mouth to the
Oregon/Washington border near the Tri-Cities.
Washington Commission made the decision at its March 1 - 2 meeting in Spokane
by a five to one vote, with two commissioners abstaining.
what appears to be a counter move, the Washington legislature is considering a
bill that would outlaw the use of non-tribal gillnets on the Columbia River
mainstem as of January 1, 2021, give the Washington Department of Fish and
Wildlife the authority to buy out commercial gillnetting licenses and provide a
fund to encourage commercial gillnetters to invest in selective gear. The ban
on gillnets would also extend to Willapa Bay, Grays Harbor and Puget Sound.
Bill 5617 was introduced to the Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources &
Parks committee in January by Sen. Jesse Salomon (D-Shoreline), and referred to
the Senate Ways and Means Committee Feb. 22.
Hamilton, executive director of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry
Association, said the Washington Commission’s decision to allow mainstem
gillnetting this year was “turning back the clock” when “salmon runs are
plummeting, the spring chinook run is less than the 10-year average and Orcas
are at risk.”
of the legislation, she said it is “a powerful affirmation of the Columbia
River harvest reforms passed by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in
is an industry lobby group, with lobbyists in both Washington and Oregon,
representing the business interests of members that depend on sport fishing for
a time when Washington’s two most iconic creatures, orca and salmon, are at
critically low levels, this bill represents an important part of the solution,”
Sen. Salomon said in a press release. “Without legislation and funding, (the
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife) was unable to implement this part
of the plan, creating uncertainty about the reforms. SB 5617 removes any doubt
about our state’s commitment to the conservation and economic benefits
envisioned in the reforms.”
Kytr, Salmon for All administrator in Astoria, said that alternative selective
gear that have been tested so far have not been shown to be more selective in
practice. “And Washington’s efforts to develop viable off-channel fishing areas
have not been successful.
Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber’s plan for Columbia River fishery reform hasn’t
delivered any of its promised benefits.”
added that “There is no biological reason for banning the gillnet, which is a
commercial fishing gear that has proven highly adaptable, easily managed, and
for All is an association of gillnetters, fish buyers, processors, and
has two similar bills, but their future is uncertain. Senate Bill 547 was
introduced by Senator Chuck Riley (D-Hillsboro) and referred to the Senate
Natural Resources Committee. It prohibits the use of non-tribal gillnets and
tangle nets, and establishes a gillnet transition program and fund to help
offset harm to permit holders resulting from the prohibition.
Bill 619, introduced by Senator Fred Girod (R, Stayton), also prohibits the use
of non-tribal gillnets and tangle nets and sets up a transition fund.
Joint-State Columbia River Salmon Fishery Policy Review Committee, which was
formed by the two state commissions, has been working to find common ground on
ways to achieve policy goals adopted in 2013 for jointly managed fisheries.
WDFW draft evaluation of the two-state Columbia River Basin Salmon Management
Policy determined that the large economic benefits expected from the policy,
also known as Columbia River harvest reform, have not been realized. It said
that alternative gear and select areas for commercial fishermen have not materialized
to the extent planned and that there have been only marginal benefits from
changes to the catch allocation for anglers.
its evaluation, WDFW staff concluded that the expectations the Washington Fish
and Wildlife Commission had when it adopted the policy in 2013 have not been
January, Ryan Lothrop, WDFW Columbia River Policy Coordinator, said the review
found that the states had made progress in implementing some of aspects of the
policy, but that progress in other areas had not met expectations.
intent of the joint working group is to improve the management of the Columbia
River," he said. "Having differences in policies in joint waters
presents real challenges in managing, implementing and enforcing
Comprehensive Evaluation of the Columbia River Basin Salmon Management Policy
is available on WDFW's website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/02029/.
Washington Commission's action at its March meeting to extend the use of
gillnets was one of a number of recommendations for Columbia River fisheries
developed by a joint committee with members of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife
Commission, a WDFW news release said. It added that Oregon's full commission
will also consider the recommendations when it meets March 15, but the Oregon
Commission agenda has yet to include a review of the policy.
from both states are working on an overhaul of each state’s Columbia River
salmon management policy. Those policies are “designed to achieve conservation
goals for salmon and steelhead, promote orderly fisheries in concurrent waters,
and maintain and enhance economic stability in sport and commercial fisheries,”
according to WDFW.
change in policy affects allowable commercial fishing gear and the allocation
of catch between sport and commercial fisheries, among other adjustments.
Conservation measures remain unchanged, and no additional fishing pressure was
approved beyond the annual amount allowed in full compliance with all salmon
and steelhead Endangered Species Act requirements and sustainable fishery
management practices,” WDFW said.
recommended by the joint state committee to reach concurrent policies are:
change in sport fisheries from mandatory barbless to voluntary barbless hooks
by June 1.
a good faith effort to develop this year comprehensive and concurrent Columbia
River salmon policies for each state to begin in 2020.
For 2019 only, the recreational to commercial allocation for the spring fishery
will be 80 percent/20 percent, with no buffer applied to the commercial share
and no mainstem commercial fishing, unless the upriver run size update is more
than 129 percent of the upriver spring chinook pre-season forecast of 99,300.
The fall chinook allocation will remain at 70 percent/30 percent for
recreational and commercial fisheries.
Washington and Oregon policies, approved in 2013, intended for the commercial
fishery to have completed a transition from gillnets to alternative gear this
year and be relocated away from mainstem Columbia River areas. However, the use
of alternative gear has not yet been refined and the off-channel areas have
been determined to be unsuitable, WDFW said.
commission modified that policy in response to a comprehensive performance
review conducted over the past year. Without that action, fishing rules for
Washington and Oregon would have been incompatible, because Oregon plans to
allow the use of gillnets during the upcoming fall season,” it said.
of the motion that passed and more information on the Columbia River Policy
Review can be found at https://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/.
CBB, February 1, 2019, “Oregon, Washington Commissions Continue Joint
Discussions On Columbia River Salmon Management,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/442079.aspx
CBB, November 2, 2018, “Evaluation Of Columbia River Harvest Reforms Shows
Expected Economic Benefits Have Not Materialized,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/441755.aspx
CBB, February 17, 2017, “ODFW Reopens Harvest Rules Focused On Phasing Out
Mainstem Gillnets Below Bonneville,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/438356.aspx
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