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Ecology and salmon related articles

Columbia Rules Under Debate

by Bill Monroe
The Oregonian, August 28, 2003

Fish managers have tough months ahead as they try to sort out new 2004 regulations for sport and commercial salmon and sturgeon fishing in the lower Columbia River.

Allocation agreements between the groups for both fisheries expire Dec. 31.

Biologists for the Oregon and Washington departments of fish and wildlife have done most of the talking so far.

They will start meeting next week with representatives of gill-netters and the sportfishing industry to talk about how to split another strong spring chinook run.

Steve King, Oregon's salmon manager, said preliminary 2004 estimates are for 250,000 upriver Columbia springers and 90,000 into the Willamette River.

That's higher than this year's Columbia run of about 200,000 and a little lower than the Willamette's 100,000-plus fish.

Commercial salmon fishing was thwarted this year by the early arrival of upriver Columbia springers. Too many protected salmon showed up in nets aimed at collecting Willamette fish, and gill-net seasons were abruptly closed.

Gill-netters will ask for more salmon.

Sport anglers also faced closures in some salmon zones and were cut off from some of the river's best sturgeon fishing by complex rules designed to trim the harvest.

Biologists will meet separately Wednesday with both groups in the Vancouver office of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to talk about salmon. The meetings are open to the public. Sport industry officials will meet at 10 a.m. and the commercial industry that afternoon.

A joint meeting will follow a week later at the same place at 10 a.m.

The states also are shopping around an idea to prohibit anglers from taking protected salmon out of the water when they're released.

King said additional public meetings on both salmon and sturgeon will be scheduled through November, but times and places haven't been set.

The sturgeon planning process hasn't begun.

Fish and wildlife commissions in both states will decide new allocations in December. Ocean, too: Saltwater anglers also face significant changes in groundfish rules next year.

The Pacific Fisheries Management Council meets Sept. 8-12 in Seattle to decide on more protection for bottomfish and lingcod.

Among the proposals are a minimum size limit of 10, 11 or 12 inches for greenlings (also known as sea trout); increasing the lingcod minimum size 24 to 26 inches, and closing all sportfishing for groundfish one month to all year outside of either 30, 40, or 50 fathoms.

Biologists fear many species, including greenlings, lingcod, cabezon, rockfishes, and flounders still might be overfished.

Greenlings are popular with estuary and shore anglers, who catch more and smaller greenlings than those in boats on the ocean.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission recently approved a decrease for 2004 in the daily bag limit for surfperch from 25 to 15 and increasing the minimum size limit of cabezon from 15 inches to 16 inches. Disabled fishing for kids: Tillamook Anglers wants to hear from the parents or guardians of disabled children and volunteers who want to help them go fishing Sept. 13 in Tillamook.

The organization will play host to 300 to 400 children at its Whiskey Creek Hatchery, south of Netarts just off the road between Tillamook and Cape Lookout.

Rods, bait, fish cleaning and food and drink are provided.

Information is available from Jerry Dove at 503-842-6519.

Bill Monroe
Columbia Rules Under Debate
The Oregonian, August 28, 2003

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