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.
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.