Washington and Oregon officials meet today in Longview to adopt the first of the fall gillnet seasons in the lower Columbia River.
The session of the Columbia River Compact starts at 10 a.m. at the Cowlitz Public Utility District office, 961 12th Ave.
A framework for splitting the non-Indian share of the Columbia's fall chinook salmon run is negotiated each March and April.
Specific dates for commercial harvest of fall chinook, coho and sturgeon then are adopted in-season, beginning in late July and continuing into October.
Fall salmon management is a complicated balancing act of splitting the harvest between tribal and non-Indian fishermen, then between non-Indian sport and commercial fishermen and even between sportsmen in different stretches of the lower Columbia.
Wild Snake River fall chinook salmon are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. An agreement between Washington, Oregon, the tribes and the federal government caps the harvest of the upriver bright stock of fall chinook at 31.29 percent to protect those wild Snake River fish.
That 31.29 percent is split 8.25 percent for non-Indians downstream of Bonneville Dam and 23.04 percent for the treaty tribes in the Bonneville, The Dalles and John Day pools.
The non-Indian share of 8.25 percent is split 52 percent for the sports fishery and 48 percent for the commercials.
The allocation framework sets out expectations for how the fall seasons will managed.
For the commercials, the framework calls for:
For sportsmen, the fall framework calls for:
- Up to three nights per week of gillnetting in the first two weeks of August from Buoy 10 to Beacon Rock. The proposed dates are Aug. 3, 5, 8, 10 and 12. The netters are anticipated to catch 12,000 fish.
- Two nights of gillnetting in the third week of August, probably Aug. 15 and 17. The first night would be from the Pacific-Wahkiakum county line upstream to Beacon Rock. The second night would be from the Wahkiakum-Cowlitz county line upstream to Beacon Rock. The anticipated catch is 4,650 chinook.
- Two nights of gillnetting in the fourth week of August between the Clark-Cowlitz line and Beacon Rock. The anticipated catch is 5,400 fish.
- The nets then are out of the the river for about three weeks during peak entry of the fall chinook run. Commercial fishing would not resume before Sept. 16, at the earliest.
Water conditions, early or delayed entry of the chinook into the Columbia and a variety of other factors could result in deviations from the plan.
- Fishing at Buoy 10 opening Sunday with a two-fish daily bag limit, but only one chinook. The goal is to have chinook retention at least through Labor Day. Nineteen percent of the sport share is allocated to fishing at Buoy 10.
- Fishing between Rocky Point in Washington and Tongue Point in Oregon upstream to Bonneville Dam also opens Sunday with a two-salmon limit, but only one chinook per day. The goal is to have chinook retention at least through Sept. 30. Seventy-one percent of the sport share has been allocated to the lower Columbia.
- Fishing between Bonneville Dam upstream to Pasco opens Sunday with a two chinook allowed in the daily bag. Ten percent of the sport share is allocated to the mid-Columbia fishery.
Allen Thomas covers hunting, fishing, hiking, camping and other outdoor recreation topics for The Columbian.
Compact to Adopt Net Season
The Columbian, July 29, 2004
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