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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

December 1, 2012 at 1:08 PM

Changes might be looming on the horizon in Lower Columbia River fisheries

There are big changes possibly coming for sport and non-tribal commercial salmon and sturgeon fishing in the Lower Columbia River, and sport anglers could reap the benefits.

Washington and Oregon fisheries representatives came up with some proposals at a meeting held on Nov. 15 in Seaside, Oregon. To view them, go to the state Fish and Wildlife website.

The plan comes up with changes in fisheries beginning next year and up through 2017.

The proposal would have sport anglers getting a larger share of salmon catch in the Lower Columbia mainstem.

Sportsmen would see an increase of 70 percent of the spring chinook catch (currently set at 60 percent) from 2013 to 2016, and then to 80 percent by 2017.

Sport anglers by 2017 would also get the entire catch of summer chinook, which is currently split in half between non-tribal commercial and sport.

According to a fisheries news release they include:

Prioritizing the recreational fisheries in the mainstem Columbia River and commercial fisheries in off-channel areas.

Transitioning commercial fisheries remaining in the mainstem to alternative gear, such as beach and purse seines.

Phasing out the use of gillnets by non-tribal fishers in the mainstem by 2017, while maintaining the economic viability of the commercial fishery during and after the transition.

Shifting a greater portion of current hatchery salmon releases to off-channel areas, and exploring options for expanding those areas for commercial fisheries.

Gradually increasing the catch share of salmon for sport fisheries in the mainstem by 2017, including 80 percent for spring chinook and 100 percent for summer chinook.

Requiring sport anglers fishing for salmon and steelhead in the mainstem Columbia River and its tributaries to use barbless hooks beginning 2013.

Considering catch-and-release only recreational fisheries for white sturgeon in the lower river, Washington’s coast and Puget Sound, to protect lower Columbia River-origin white sturgeon. Closing non-tribal commercial fisheries for white sturgeon in the lower river and coast also would be considered as part of this effort.

Reviewing the plan during the transition to ensure objectives are being met. If necessary, changes will be made to meet the established objectives.

The nine members of the state Fish and Wildlife Commission will take public comments at a Dec. 14-15 meeting in Olympia. To view the meeting details, go to the state Fish and Wildlife website.

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