Tag Archives: Salmon management

WDFW Reviewing Lower Columbia Rec-Comm Salmon Management Policy, Briefing Advisory Panels

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will provide an initial briefing to two advisory committees as it begins a review of the 5-year-old policy that guides the management of commercial and recreational salmon fisheries in the lower Columbia River.

COLUMBIA RIVER SALMON ANGLERS FISH AT BUOY 10 DURING THE 2015 SEASON. (NWFISHINGGUIDES.NET)

Members of Washington’s Fish and Wildlife Commission last week directed the WDFW staff to conduct a thorough and transparent review of the policy, which was originally adopted in 2013 in collaboration with the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Bill Tweit, a WDFW special assistant, said the Washington commission members want to ensure the policy review includes multiple opportunities for the public to participate.

The policy, adjusted by both states in 2017, is designed to promote conservation of salmon and steelhead, prioritize recreational salmon fishing in the lower Columbia River, and shift gillnet fisheries away from the river’s main channel. The current Washington policy also calls for increasing hatchery releases in the lower Columbia, expanding the use of alternative fishing gear by commercial fishers, and implementing strategies to reduce the number of Columbia River gillnet permits.

The first opportunities for public engagement will take place March 14 at the WDFW southwest Washington regional office, 5525 South 11th St., Ridgefield. The department’s Columbia River Commercial Fishing Advisory Group will meet from 1 p.m. -3 p.m., and the Columbia River Recreational Fishing Advisory Group will meet from 3 p.m.-5 p.m.

The advisory committee meetings will take place one day before the Washington commission’s March 15-17 meeting in Wenatchee. All three meetings will be open to the public and will provide information on the results of Columbia River fisheries since 2013.

The commission plans to consider the policy at two other meetings later this year. Members tentatively plan to have a joint meeting with the Oregon commission in September, with the goal of concluding the review and possibly revising the policy in November. Again, these meetings will be open to the public.

“Columbia River salmon fisheries are part of Washington’s economic, cultural, and recreational lifeblood, so we want to keep the public informed and involved as we review and revise this important policy,” said Commission Chairman Brad Smith.

The policy, as revised by the Washington commission in January 2017, is available at https://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/policies/c3620.pdf.

Baker Sockeye On Commission Agenda

The agenda for next week’s Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is a meaty one, and one item that is sure to draw attention is Baker sockeye.

The North Sound salmon fishery has come under scrutiny following large catch disparities in two of the past four years.

WHILE FISHERMEN OF ALL FLEETS HAVE BEEN ENJOYING SURGING BAKER LAKE SOCKEYE RETURNS, SOME ARE ASKING FOR A FAIRER BALANCED HARVEST. (NMFS)

Sport anglers caught half or less than half of what local tribes did during the 2014 and 2017 seasons, and anglers like Frank Urabeck are looking for more of a 50-50 split.

He and three other sportfishing representatives will voice their concerns next Friday afternoon, after WDFW staffers brief the commission on how the Skagit River and Baker Lake fishery is managed and their take on ideas to rebalance the harvest.

A PDF posted ahead of the meeting provides many details about what will be talked about, and it appears to show that the imbalance can be greatest during years in which the run comes in below the preseason forecast. Recreational anglers fish a middle section of the lower Skagit — the tribes above and below there — and Baker Lake.

WDFW says that since 2010, the take has been roughly equal — 98,390 for treaty fishermen, 94,737 for sport anglers — but acknowledges that the harvest can become “highly skewed” in a given year and that there’s a “lack (of) timely data to adjust in-season harvest substantively.”

Agency staffers’ poposed solutions include:

• Technical Improvements
• Buffer Harvest Shares
• Conservative Preseason Planning
• Expanding River Opportunity

Each has pros and cons, with more fishing opportunity and tweaks to the forecasting model standing out, while the others face WDFW and likely tribal concerns.

Other items on the commission’s agenda include briefings on simplifying some of the sportfishing rules — primarily trout, bass, etc — northern pjke suppression efforts on Lake Roosevelt, WDFW’s proposed marketing plan, and more, plus a wolf management update and other news from Director Unsworth.