WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

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February 12, 1997
Contact: Chuck Bolland, (360) 902-2255

Columbia River Compact to consider both sturgeon and smelt seasons

PORTLAND -- The Washington and Oregon departments of Fish and Wildlife on Friday will consider extending three Columbia River fisheries.

The agencies will consider extending the non-Indian commercial sturgeon season an additional week. Technical staffs currently are evaluating the sturgeon catch to date as well as the incidental catch of salmon. The sturgeon fishery comes just ahead of an important spring chinook run which must be protected. If the sturgeon catch is at or near the season's allocation, then the commercial season will close this Friday.

There is also concern that the river's smelt runs have been below average for the past four years. The commercial season, which is normally open seven days a week through March 31, was reduced to one and a half days of fishing each week and scheduled to close after Feb. 14. If an evaluation of this year's run size and catch doesn't show marked improvement, the agencies will recommend maintaining the closure scheduled for Friday. The sport smelt fishery would close on Sunday.

The agencies, which make up the Columbia River Compact, will meet at 10 a.m. Friday at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's commission room, 2501 SW 1st Ave., Portland.