DFWs’ 2020 Columbia Salmon Agreement Draws Push Back

The latest chapter in the seemingly never-ending Columbia River salmon reforms is raising hackles this afternoon.


Less than two hours after the DFWs sent out press releases that their directors had agreed to split 2020 spring, summer and fall Chinook sport-nontribal commercial allocations at 75/25, 80/20 and 70/30, and again OKed gillnets above the Lewis for fall kings, the Coastal Conservation Association of Washington sent out an email subject-lined “Block WDFW’s Efforts to Increase Columbia River Gillnetting.”

“The Legislature is our best hope for reversing these alarming decisions. Please act now,” CCA urged in an online campaign.

According to WDFW’s press release, the agreement does allow for tangle nets — not gillnets — to be used in the mainstem Lower Columbia if a mid-May spring Chinook runsize update shows enough are available for harvest.

It does keep gillnets out of the river during the summer Chinook run.

And it would allow commercial gillnetters to fish above the mouth of the Lewis River in what are known as Zones 4 and 5 for fall Chinook, “in order to maintain concurrency with Oregon,” per the DFWs.

Last season that happened in August and again in early October on a handful of days, with 8,824 kings weighing 131,672 pounds netted.

The DFWs’ press release states that the 75 percent sport allocation of spring Chinook for 2020 represents a 5 percent increase from Washington’s policy, but last year’s fishery was actually managed on an 80-20 basis, per management documents.

No mainstem netting occurred for springers, as the commercial fleet was restricted to off-channel areas last year.

The agreement also includes what one observer described as a “flip-flop-flip,” by again requiring barbless hooks for salmon and steelhead on the Columbia from Buoy 10 to the state line just east of McNary Dam beginning March 1.

After a period of years when barbless were required due to the reforms that began in 2013, ODFW OKed barbed hooks again last June while WDFW made their use voluntary.

On Friday, a 2016 blog post by California guide JD Richey that hook placement was more important than whether the hook was barbed or not was making the rounds on Facebook, but some anglers feel that with all the ESA listed stocks on the Columbia barbless is the better way to go.

Earlier this year both states’ Fish and Wildlife Commissions dissolved their joint Columbia River Policy Review Committee and turned season negotiations over to Directors Curt Melcher for ODFW and Kelly Susewind for WDFW.

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