PORTLAND – Oregon and Washington officials announced today the annual Columbia River fall sport salmon season will open as scheduled on August 1 for chinook and coho as a result of a negotiated settlement between the two states, federal government and Indian tribes.
Because of harvest rate limits, the chinook sport fishing between Buoy 10 and the Tongue Point-Rocky Point line is not expected to last through Labor Day. However, the season for fin-clipped coho will remain open through December. Biologists expect more than 400,000 fin-clipped coho to return this fall.
The sport fishery upstream of the Tongue Point-Rocky Point line is expected to remain open after Buoy 10 closes.
Oregon and Washington fishery officials predict 329,000 chinook will enter the Columbia this fall. Anglers will be targeting a portion of the 208,000 "upriver bright" chinook heading for the Hanford Reach of the Columbia.
Large numbers of upriver brights are intermingled with Snake River chinook, which are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. Fishing seasons must conserve the ESA-listed fish. The National Marine Fisheries Service determined that no more than 31.29 percent of the upriver brights can be harvested to ensure that enough Snake River fish reach spawning grounds.
Ongoing litigation required a court-approved agreement on the amount of fish that could be harvested before the fisheries commence. Last week, federal court Judge Malcolm Marsh ordered the states of Oregon and Washington, the federal government and the Columbia River Treaty Tribes (Warm Springs, Yakama, Umatilla and Nez Perce Indian Tribes) to agree to an allocation of fall chinook for the 2000 Columbia River fisheries.
The agreement between the parties limits the states to an 8.25 percent harvest rate on the healthy upriver bright chinook run to protect the Snake River fish. The tribes will be allowed 23 percent of the run. The agreement will become final when signed by the judge. The final agreement will also include plans for release of hatchery salmon and steelhead in areas upstream of Bonneville Dam.
The states plan to pursue a long-term arrangement for the equitable sharing of salmon available for harvest with the court over the next year. The states' intent is to develop an agreement that would also include rules for Columbia River spring and summer fisheries and the fall season for the next several years.
Managers from the Washington and Oregon departments of fish and wildlife will meet at 10 am, July 27 to discuss how to manage the fall 2000 Buoy 10 sport fishery and to consider an early August commercial sturgeon fishery. The meeting of the Columbia River Compact will be held at the headquarters of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in the second floor commission meeting room, 2501 S.W. 1st Ave, Portland, OR 97201.