OLYMPIA — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider updating the state’s anti-gillnet policy on Columbia River salmon management during a meeting scheduled Jan. 13-14 at the Heathman Lodge, 7801 N.E. Greenwood Dr. in Vancouver. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. both days.
Commissioners are scheduled to consider updating the next phase of a policy adopted in 2013 to restructure salmon fisheries below Bonneville Dam. The public will be allowed to provide comment on the proposed updates during the meeting.
Developed with Oregon, the policy was designed to promote conservation of salmon and steelhead, prioritize recreational salmon fishing in the Lower Columbia River, and transition gillnet fisheries into off-channel areas by Dec. 31, 2016. The policy also calls for increasing hatchery releases in these areas, while expanding commercial fishing opportunities through the use of alternative fishing gear.
Options currently under consideration by the commission would:
• Extend the transition period of the current plan by a year as Oregon recently did.
• Adopt the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife staff proposal for “rebalancing” commercial and recreational benefits for spring and summer Chinook salmon.
• Follow the current policy.
• Follow the current policy, but explicitly allow a gillnet fishery for upriver bright fall Chinook upstream from the Lewis River in 2017 and 2018.
Options under consideration are posted on WDFW’s website at wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/lower_columbia/options.html.
The commission also is scheduled to consider updates to the North of Falcon policy, which provides direction to fishery managers in defining annual salmon fishing seasons in Washington’s waters. As part of that discussion, the commission will receive a briefing on efforts to provide greater transparency during the season-setting process.