2016 Joint Staff Report Concerning Stock Status and Fisheries for Sturgeon and Smelt


This report describes sturgeon and smelt populations in the mainstem Columbia River and includes a review of fisheries, current management plans and guidelines, and past management actions and strategies. This report is part of an annual series produced by the Joint Columbia River Management Staff of the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) and Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW). Members of the U.S. v Oregon Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) have reviewed this report.


The Columbia River Compact is charged by congressional and statutory authority to adopt seasons and rules for Columbia River commercial fisheries. In recent years, the Compact has consisted of delegates for the Oregon and Washington agency directors, acting on behalf of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission (OFWC) and the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission (WFWC). In addition, the Columbia River treaty tribes have authority to regulate treaty Indian fisheries.

When addressing commercial seasons for Columbia River fisheries, the Compact must consider the effect of the commercial fishery on escapement, treaty rights, and the impact on species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Working together under the Compact, the states have the responsibility to address the allocation of limited resources between recreational, commercial and treaty Indian fishers. This responsibility has become increasingly demanding in recent years. The states maintain a conservative management approach when considering Columbia River fisheries that will affect species listed under the ESA.


Based on previous OFWC and WFWC action, effective January 1, 2014 all recreational and non-Indian commercial fisheries in the Columbia River and tributaries downstream of Bonneville Dam (LCR) closed to the retention of white sturgeon. The Sturgeon Management Task Force (SMTF) is scheduled to meet in January 2016 to review results of the 2015 stock assessment in Bonneville Pool and to discuss management options for 2016, including harvest guidelines for 2016 Zone 6 white sturgeon fisheries.

As a result of the 2010 ESA listing of eulachon (Columbia River smelt) all eulachon-directed fisheries in the Columbia River closed as of January 2011. In 2014 and 2015, the states worked closely with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to conduct minor eulachon research fisheries to gather biological data and adult catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) data for monitoring the status of the population.