BPA Says This Year Seesby CBB Staff
The Bonneville Power Administration said this week that there was a record catch of northern pikeminnow this year, saving 2.5 million to 3.5 million juvenile salmon.
Over the 13-year duration of the program, evaluators estimate the population of this indigenous predator has been reduced by 25 percent.
This year's record-setting season ended on Sept. 26 with a catch of 267,213 pikeminnow. The second largest catch was in 1996 when 244,032 fish were caught.
More than 2,378,500 pikeminnow have been caught over the life of the predator control program.
The program, funded by BPA, costs about $2.8 million a year. However, this year the program received a financial boost of $600,000 to raise the reward on the predator.
BPA began the enhanced pikeminnow program in May, anticipating that it would help make up for the impacts of reducing summer spill. Although the summer spill proposal was stopped by court action, the enhanced pikeminnow program continued at the higher dollar level.
"Preliminary estimates show that the increase in the reward had the kind of impact we were hoping for in terms of an increased harvest rate and benefits associated with it," said John Skidmore, BPA pikeminnow program manager.
The program was also given high marks in a study sponsored by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. The study, funded by BPA and conducted by economists Hans Radtke, Shannon Davis and Chris Carter, said the program is cost effective. Radtke, past chair of the commission, is a member of an eight-person panel appointed by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council to provide an economic perspective on salmon recovery programs and actions.
The Northern Pikeminnow Management Program, which began in 1990, pays $5 to $8 for each of these salmon-eating predators delivered by fishers to stations along the Columbia and Snake rivers. The only limitations are that angling must occur in designated areas and each fish submitted must be at least nine inches long.
The more fish anglers catch, the more they are worth. The first 100 bring $5 each. The next 300 are worth $6 each, and after 400 are turned in, they're worth $8 each. Specially tagged pikeminnow are worth $500 each. Anglers have averaged several hundred dollars during a season; the top 25 have made from $5,000 to $35,000 fishing for pikeminnow.
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