OLYMPIA — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider adopting broad-based changes in policies governing salmon and sturgeon fisheries on the lower Columbia River at a public meeting Jan. 11-12 in Olympia.
The commission, which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will meet both days starting at 8:30 a.m. in the Columbia Room of the state Legislative Building, Sid Snyder Ave. N.W.
The new draft policy would establish a new management framework that includes a higher allocation of salmon to the sport fishery, a gradual shift of commercial gillnets to enhanced off-channel areas and development of new selective gears for commercial fisheries on the mainstem Columbia River.
In other business, the commission will consider approving the sale of the Colville Fish Hatchery to Stevens County, and receive a briefing on sportfishing rules proposed for 2013-14. A separate briefing is also scheduled on management options for giant Pacific octopuses in Puget Sound.
An agenda for the meeting is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/meetings.html.
The proposed policy changes for Columbia River fisheries are based on recommendations made by representatives from Washington and Oregon in response to a request by Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission approved a new management framework for Columbia River fisheries Dec. 7.
Key provisions of the policy changes, available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/, are designed to:
- Promote conservation and recovery of wild salmon and steelhead, maintaining orderly fisheries and increasingly focusing harvest on abundant hatchery fish.
- Seek to enhance the overall economic well-being and stability of Columbia River fisheries in a manner that is consistent with conservation and does not impair the resource.
- Prioritize recreational fisheries for salmon and steelhead in the mainstem lower Columbia River and commercial fisheries in off-channel areas.
- Phase out the use of gillnets by non-tribal fishers in the mainstem by 2017, while maintaining the economic viability of the commercial fishery during and after the transition.
- Develop and implement selective-fishing gear and techniques for commercial fisheries in the mainstem, and providing incentives to commercial fishers to develop and implement these alternative gears and techniques.
- Track the results of the fishery management actions during the 2013-16 transition period, providing the commission with the opportunity to review the policy and make adjustments if the objectives are not met.
- Require sport anglers fishing for salmon and steelhead in the mainstem Columbia River and its tributaries to use barbless hooks beginning in 2013.