OLYMPIA — The public is invited to attend a series of meetings scheduled by members of the Washington and Oregon fish and wildlife commissions to discuss the next steps for salmon management on the Columbia River.
The Joint-State Columbia River Salmon Fishery Policy Review Committee, formed by the two state commissions, is working to find common ground on ways to achieve policy goals adopted in 2013 for jointly managed fisheries. These policies bar commercial gillnet salmon fishing in the river’s main stem and shift catch allocation to recreational fishermen.
The committee, which includes three commissioners from Washington and three from Oregon, held one public meeting in mid-January and is planning more in the next two months:
• Feb. 6, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s regional office at 5525 S. 11th St. in Ridgefield.
• Feb. 26, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at main office of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at 4034 Fairview Industrial Dr. S.E. in Salem.
• March 14, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at WDFW’s regional office at 5525 S. 11th St. in Ridgefield.
WDFW recently finalized its five-year performance review of the Columbia River Basin Salmon Management Policy of 2013. In addition to banning most gillnetting, it called for mandatory use of barbless hooks in an effort to improve the survival rate of naturally spawning salmon that are released after being caught.
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.
“The intent of the joint working group is to improve the management of the Columbia River,” Lothrop said. “Having differences in policies in joint waters presents real challenges in managing, implementing and enforcing fisheries.”
Washington’s Comprehensive Evaluation of the Columbia River Basin Salmon Management Policy is available on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/02029/.
The intent of these meetings is to discuss what each state has learned since 2013, review a variety of scenarios to improve concurrency between the two states and determine what potential changes could occur for both short and long-term. To take effect, any new proposals endorsed by the committee would require approval by the full fish and wildlife commissions in each state, Lothrop said.
“These initial meetings will work within a short timeframe for possible 2019 changes in order to give policy direction to the fishery managers as the salmon season-setting process begins this spring,” Lothrop said.