Two public workshops are scheduled later this month to discuss the status of the Columbia River white sturgeon population below Bonneville Dam, and to gather public comments on 2003-2005 sport and commercial fishing seasons and regulations.
The workshops will be held Oct. 15 at the Water Resources Education Center, 4600 S.E. Columbia Way in Vancouver, and Oct. 21 at the Astoria Seafood Center in Astoria. Both meetings will run from 6 to 9 p.m.
The meetings will provide an opportunity for public input on sturgeon fishing seasons, and other aspects of a proposed three-year sturgeon management plan for 2003 through 2005.
"We anticipate that the sturgeon harvest will be reduced under the new management plan, because the population appears to have been declining over the past four or five years," said Brad James, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) biologist.
James said the current annual harvest guideline is 50,000 fish. Fish managers estimate there are more than 130,000 Columbia River sturgeon of legally-harvestable size. That number has declined about 4 percent from population levels of five years ago, based on surveys of fish that are tagged and later recovered, and on harvest sampling.
Washington and Oregon fish and wildlife commissions are scheduled to make a decision on the new sturgeon management plan in December.