OLYMPIA - In the 2004 and 2005 Columbia River spring chinook fisheries, sport anglers should be granted 60 percent of the allowable impacts to wild fish, and commercial fishers should get 40 percent, with in-season flexibility of up to 5 percent, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has decided.
The commission, in offering guidance on impact allocation during a workshop here Saturday, delegated authority to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Jeff Koenings to work with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife on a joint agreement between the states. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission recently ruled that sport fishers should have 50-to-60 percent of the allowable impacts to wild fish, and commercial fishers 40-to-50 percent.
The final allocation decision will be announced in a Feb. 5 meeting of Washington and Oregon fish managers, known as the Columbia River Compact, after the directors from both agencies have reached an allocation agreement.
The allocated impact between the two fisheries refers to the number of protected wild fish that die after being caught inadvertently in the fishery, which targets hatchery-produced fish. Although both commercial and recreational fishers are required to release wild fish, a certain number die from handling. Biologists track those impacts to ensure that mortalities do not exceed 2 percent of the wild run.
Wild spring chinook returning to the upper Columbia and Snake rivers are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Biologists expect 360,700 upriver-origin spring chinook, including both hatchery and wild fish, to enter the Columbia River this year. This year's run is expected to be the second-largest on record since construction of Bonneville Dam in the late 1930s. Another 26,900 fish are predicted to return to the Cowlitz, Kalama and Lewis rivers.