Bonneville Raises the Bountyby CBB Staff
The Bonneville Power Administration has upped the rewards for northern pikeminnow caught in the Columbia and Snake rivers this year. The agency says it's part of a broader effort to protect juvenile salmon this summer while reducing spill at dams in July and August.
"The pikeminnow program saves tens of thousands of juvenile salmon each year that would otherwise be eaten by these predators," said Ed Mosey, BPA spokesman. "We propose to increase the money available for rewards by $600,000 and to pay more for each fish turned in. This should help offset the effects of reducing spill if we elect to do so."
Mosey said federal agencies responsible for operating dams and protecting fish are expected to make a decision this month on the spill reduction. Under the proposal, some of the water spilled over dams to move fish downstream in late July and in August would be used instead to generate electricity. This is expected to save about $35 million.
The accelerated pikeminnow fishery is part of a package of measures designed to protect an equal or greater number of juvenile salmon at less cost than the spill program in July and August. Federal agencies are now developing that package. Waiting to implement a more robust pikeminnow program would reduce the number of predators removed from the rivers this summer. So the agency elected to act now regardless of the spill decision.
The action is expected to help primarily stocks not listed as endangered but of concern to tribal and fishing interests. The larger incentives are expected to increase the number of pikeminnow caught by 20,000 or more above a base of more than approximately 200,000 annually removed from the rivers.
The rewards increase $1 per fish, effective for registration forms stamped May 31 or later. So the following rewards are in effect from May 31st through the end of the season:
$5 each for the first 100 turned in; $6 for 101-400; $8 for each over 400; and $500 for special tagged fish, up from $100.
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