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Lower Columbia River Alternative Commercial Fishing Gear Study - Year 1 Study Plan

Category: Fishing / Shellfishing - Selective Fishing

Date Published: August 21, 2009

Number of Pages: 8

Author(s): WDFW Fish Program Region 5 and Science Division


The Lower Columbia Alternative Commercial Fishing Gear study is a multi-year effort by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and cooperating fishers, beginning in the summer of 2009, aimed at developing gear in the Lower Columbia River that can efficiently selectively fish Chinook and coho salmon. The ultimate goal of this work is to develop a fishing regime in which hatchery-origin fall Chinook and coho can be harvested at commercial scales, but also one where natural-origin fish caught with them can be released so that they can spawn successfully.

The study is a huge undertaking, because to achieve the goals of the study we have to develop and test gear types, determine what proportion of the available fish they can catch, and determine the survival rates of fish released from them. Moreover, for the work to be scientifically defensible the study will be done according to an experimental design that can be analyzed statistically. However, because the work involves fishing gear not used commercially in the Lower Columbia in several decades, it is impossible to do the full-scaled study without a development period. Thus, the first year will be very much a pilot study, with three objectives, listed in order of emphasis:

1) Evaluate three fishing gears: modified purse seine, beach seine, and Merwin trap. Through repetitive use, learn how to use the gear effectively, determine if the gear needs to be modified and if possible, modify accordingly.

2) Evaluation and refinement of protocols established to sample, tag, and release fish to assess the immediate and long-term impacts each gear type imposes on the fish it captures.

3) Determine the relative catch per unit effort of each gear.