Columbia River fisheries and management

Columbia River
Photo by WDFW

The Columbia River, one of the largest rivers in North America, has tremendous economic importance in the forms of hydropower and clean energy, transportation, and irrigation, and is a critical waterway for salmon, steelhead, and a multitude of other aquatic species. The fishery, meanwhile, has its own economic importance, with recreational, commercial, and tribal fishing delivering a much-needed boost to local communities and other interests statewide.

The Columbia River basin stretches across a huge portion of Washington state, from the Pacific Ocean to the Canada, Oregon, and Idaho borders. Dozens of different salmon and steelhead runs migrate in and out of the river and its tributaries every year, many traveling hundreds of miles as they move between their home spawning grounds and the ocean. Those runs include several listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), such as Snake River steelhead, lower Columbia River Chinook, and Snake River sockeye.

WDFW is tasked with managing the fish and wildlife resources along the river for conservation and recreation, in partnership with other states, federal entities, and tribal co-managers.