OLYMPIA - The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will take public input and consider changes to selective commercial fishing rules on the Columbia River at its Thursday, Aug. 22 meeting in Olympia.
The commission, which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), is expected to discuss establishing a new mesh size for selective tangle net fisheries for hatchery spring chinook salmon.
This was the first year for commercial selective fishing for hatchery spring chinook on the Columbia River, and the use of tangle nets is designed to give commercial fishers access to targeted stocks in mixed stock areas. Tangle nets consist of a fine mesh net hung loose in the water that entangles the fish and allows non-targeted species to be safely released.
Fisheries managers had allowed a range of net mesh sizes to be used. This was done to determine which size would be most effective for catching hatchery spring chinook, and allowing the release of other fish, such as wild spring chinook and steelhead.
Any action taken by the commission would be forwarded to the Columbia River Compact for approval and adoption. The compact has Congressional and statutory authority to adopt seasons and rules for commercial fisheries on the river, and consists of the states of Oregon and Washington, and Columbia River treaty Indian tribes.
The commission is considering taking the action at this time so that commercial fishers have enough lead time to purchase new gear prior to the spring 2003 fishery.
Other scheduled commission meeting agenda items include adoption of classifying and controlling aquatic nuisance species rules, and updates on WDFW's land ownership review process, chronic wasting disease in deer and elk, the hatchery scientific review group process, and the six-year game management plan.
The commission meeting is set for 8 a.m. in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. S.E., Olympia.