Columbia River gillnets to be remove says Oregon, Washington next

So after 12 hours of testimony and last minute finagling, Commissioners voted 4-2, for the framework surrounding the Governors Vision to remove gillnets from the Columbia River.

The “Governor’s Vision” and for that matter, promise, was to have gillnets removed in relatively short order and an allocation shift from commercials to sport fishermen effective immediately. This vision was to be vetted through the Staff at the ODFW and then negotiated with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. From there the process was to move to the Commission for a vote, which is where we stand today.

Washington appears to be on board with Oregon’s proceedings, but will need to  approve what Oregon has done.  Washington has been apart of the framework development that Oregon voted on, so the likely hood of any wholesale changes is slim, but wish list items could be thrown into the fold.

So here it is:

Spring Chinook

The split wont be quite as aggressive as initially thought, but 65/35 will do to start.  Over the course of the next few years it will slowly move to 80/20, which commercial fishermen will mostly use up with incidental catch in the “safe areas”.

Summer Chinook

80/20 split on Summer Chinook and many of you may be shrugging your shoulders on this one as the Summer run is traditionally below 100,000 fish.  In the next couple years we’re going to see the results of the Chief Joseph Hatchery project and Summer Chinook fishing will be a very legitimate Salmon option once the cycles from the hatchery are in full swing.

Barbless Hooks

While there were efforts by the industry to phase barbless hooks into everyday life on the Columbia River, the Commission didn’t go for it and this will be something that we’ll have to deal with right away.

The Youngs Bay “Bubble”

The possible closure of the area around Youngs Bay was tabled, but seems it will be decided on over the course of the next few months.  The bubble around Youngs Bay is a safe haven for anglers with smaller boats as it provides protection from the much of the heavy water in the channels.  We’ll want to keep tabs on this as it’s loss to the sport fishery on the Lower Columbia would be wholly unacceptable.

Here’s the interview that I did with Bruce Polley of CCA right after the decision was made.


Download MP3 file

I’ll have more in the future on this as this process shakes out.  The fight to preserve sport and sustenance fishing is far from over and there will be plenty of new issues and fights in the future.

Here’s some links to what papers in the region are having to say about the issue:

Daily Astorian- Oregon bans gillnets on Columbia River in 4-2 vote; Washington vote next

The Oregonian- Gill-net ban in lower Columbia River to phase-in by 2017 in plan approved by Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission

Lance Fisher is a Columbia River Fishing Guide and host of the NW Outdoor Show, a syndicated radio show in Oregon and Washington.

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