Washington and Oregon fish managers have agreed on a one-year lower Columbia River sturgeon sport harvest plan that will close retention for two separate periods to limit catch.
To meet the overall sport harvest guidelines of 32,000 fish, the river above the Wauna power lines (at Puget Island where power lines cross from Cathlamet to the Oregon town of Wauna) is anticipated to close to sturgeon retention seven days a week from March 24 through June 30, while the river estuary below Wauna is expected to be closed for retention seven days a week from July 10 through Sept. 30. Catch-and-release sturgeon angling may continue during the retention closure.
For the remainder of the year, sturgeon fishing will be open seven days a week.
Annual bag limits will remain at 10 fish per angler, but the states will consider a reduction to a five-fish annual limit through the permanent rules process.
The plan allocates 60 percent of the recreational harvest (18,000 fish) to the estuary area of the river, and the remaining 40 percent (12,000 fish) to the area above the Wauna power lines.
The states are managing for a 2,000-fish buffer in the overall sport harvest guideline, equating to a 30,000-fish recreational harvest. Fisheries will be managed for the quota in each area, and specific retention dates may be adjusted to meet the quotas.
"This plan offers opportunity to fishers all along the river, while reflecting recent years' harvest distribution," said Bill Tweit, Columbia River policy lead for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
"This is a good compromise for this year and ensures that conservation needs are met," said Ed Bowles, Fish Division administrator for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). "Oregon will re-assess the fishery using a full public process this summer and fall with the goal of developing a three-year agreement."
The sport harvest plan was developed in response to declines in the white sturgeon population, which dropped 4 percent a year from 1996 through 2001.