2018 Joint Staff Report Concerning Stock Status and Fisheries for Sturgeon and Smelt


Published: January 18, 2018

Pages: 58

Author(s): Joint Columbia River Management Staff


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 Compact

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.

Seasons Considered

Recreational and non-treaty commercial fisheries for white sturgeon in the Columbia River and tributaries downstream of Bonneville Dam during 2018 will be likely be addressed after updated stock status information and additional Commission guidance is available. Retention fisheries in the pools between Bonneville Dam and McNary Dam (Zone 6) open January 1 under permanent rules. The Sturgeon Management Task Force (SMTF) will meet in January 2018 to review results of the 2017 stock assessment in The Dalles Pool and to discuss management options for 2018, including harvest guidelines for 2018 Zone 6 white sturgeon fisheries.

As a result of the 2010 ESA listing of Pacific eulachon (Columbia River smelt) all eulachon-directed fisheries in the Columbia River closed as of January 2011. In 2014-2017, 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 data for monitoring the status of the population. Pending discussions with NMFS, eulachon fisheries of a similar scale are being considered for 2018.

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