New Guidelines Give
by Mark Yuasa
Lower Columbia River sport anglers will see more time on the water for spring chinook, while still managing to stay within conservation needs, after the state Fish and Wildlife Commission approved new guidelines for the upcoming fishing season.
"We in the sport fishing industry support this conservation-based decision," said Tony Floor, director of fishing affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association. "Every year is different in the Columbia River for many [spring chinook] stocks, and this is the year we need to protect the depressed ones, particularly those in the lower river."
Sport anglers and netters aren't allowed to kill more than 2 percent of the entire wild chinook return in the Columbia River.
Within that 2 percent limit, the new one-year allocation adopted by the commission gives 65 percent of the incidental mortality rate to sport anglers and 35 percent to commercial fishermen.
In past years, 57 percent was given to the sport fishery and 43 percent to the commercial fishery.
The forecast calls for a return of 269,300 upriver Columbia spring chinook, compared with last year's forecast of 78,500 [86,230 actual return]. The Willamette return is expected to be poor this year, which will mean more restrictions on fishing from the confluence of the Willamette near the I-5 Bridge.
This past Friday, the commissioners voted 5-3 with one abstention to modify the formula used the past two seasons to allocate the incidental catch of wild spring chinook between nontribal sport and commercial fisheries.
"This was a tough decision, because the spring chinook fishery is important to both sport and commercial fishers," commission chairman Jerry Gutzwiler said in a news release.
Because a portion of the wild spring chinook run is protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, anglers may keep only hatchery-marked fish with a missing adipose fin.
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission met Friday, and its proposal calls for the same split among sport anglers and non-treaty commercial fishermen as last year.
Washington and Oregon officials will finalize the spring chinook seasons at a joint meeting on Friday.
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