Columbia River Salmon Fishery Policy review process

At its Sept. 11, 2020 meeting, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission concluded a lengthy policy review process by adopting a revised policy for the management of Columbia River salmon fisheries, superseding the Columbia River Basin Salmon Management Policy that had been adopted in early 2013.  Policy C-3630, the Columbia River Salmon Fishery Management Policy, can be viewed here. 


In January 2013, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission (WFWC) adopted Policy C-3620. The policy was amended slightly in 2017. The stated purpose of the policy was to " promote orderly fisheries (particularly in waters in which the states of Washington and Oregon have concurrent jurisdiction), advance the conservation and recovery of wild salmon and steelhead, and maintain or enhance the economic well-being and stability of the fishing industry in the state." The policy recognized significant uncertainty in implementation, depended on continued economic and biological  evaluation, and relied on an adaptive management approach.

As required by Policy C-3620, staff conducted a five-year policy performance review beginning in 2018 with stakeholder input and issued a final report that identified various “expectations in the development of the policy were not met.” The Oregon and Washington Commissions held a joint meeting in November 2018 to discuss Columbia River issues and indicated interest in reaching policy and regulatory concurrency between the two states for 2019 in time for the North of Falcon salmon season setting process and, as soon as possible thereafter, for 2020 and beyond. The two commissions agreed to create the Joint-State Columbia River Fishery Policy Review Committee (PRC) consisting of three Washington and three Oregon commissioners to develop recommendations to the full commissions in each State.

Seven PRC meetings were held in 2019. In January 2020, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission suspended activity in the PRC process. The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission continued it review of Policy C-3620 and established a Columbia River Policy Workgroup composed of three commissioners, which met four times in 2020. 

The Commission released a public review draft of possible revisions to Policy C-3620 on June 12, 2020.  On September 11, 2020, the Commission adopted revised language that updated Policy C-3620 and directed new policies.

Meeting materials prepared for the 2019 PRC meetings and the 2020 meetings of the Columbia River Policy Workgroup are listed below. Also shown below is the June 2020 public review draft of policy revisions and the revised policy document adopted by the Commission in September 2020, together with materials associated with those decisions. Written public comment was solicited as part of the Commission, Workgroup and Committee processes and is included at the bottom of this page under "additional materials."

You can also find some answers to frequently asked questions here.

Revised policy C-3630

At its Sept. 11, 2020 meeting, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved changes to its Columbia River Basin Salmon Management Policy. A motion proposed various significant changes and additions, and an amendment proposed an increase in the share of Upriver Spring Chinook provided to Snake River recreational fishery; the amendment passed by a 7-2 vote and the amended main motion passed by a 5-4 vote. The revised policy language, the news release at the time of adoption, a document describing the rationale for the majority decision, and a table comparing key differences from the original 2013 policy can be found here:

- Columbia River Salmon Fishery Management Policy (C-3630)
- News release
- Decision Rationale Document
- Comparison of revised policy with 2013 policy

Public Review Draft of Policy C-3620 Revisions

At its June 12, 2020 meeting, the Commission approved release of draft revised language for Policy C-3620 for public review.  The materials under the Commission meeting agenda item at that time are shown below.

Workgroup and Committee meeting materials

Reference Document 1. Policy C-3620: Columbia River Basin Salmon Management 
Reference Document 2. February 26, 2019 PRC Recommendation Transmission Document 
Reference Document 3. March 11, 2020 Meeting Working Draft of Policy Language 

Additional materials