A big topic on major changes for Lower Columbia River salmon fisheries that could create more sport fishing opportunities in the years ahead will be part of the dicussion at the state Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting 8:30 a.m. Dec. 14-15 at the Comfort Inn Conference Center, 1620 74th Ave. S.W. in Tumwater.
The commission will also make a final decision on new options Puget Sound spot shrimp catch allocation between sport and nontribal fishermen.
The public can review the agenda for the meeting on the state Fish and Wildlife Commission’s website.
Last month, Washington and Oregon representatives created recommendations to restructure salmon and sturgeon fisheries in the Lower Columbia River at the request of Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber.
According to the commission news release some of the proposals are:
Prioritizing the recreational fisheries in the mainstem Columbia River and commercial fisheries in off-channel areas.
Transitioning commercial fisheries remaining in the mainstem Columbia River 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 the sport fishery in the mainstem over the next four years and by 2017 providing 100 percent of the summer and mainstem spring chinook harvest to the sport fishery, while increasing spring chinook opportunity for the commercial fishery in the off-channel areas.
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, as well as 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 Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the new proposal last Friday, Dec. 7.