States, Tribes will Develop Salmon Planby William McCall, Associated Press
Spokesman Review - February 17, 2001
Doubling Columbia River run in 25 years is coastwide goal
PORTLAND -- Indian tribes have agreed with the states of Oregon and Washington to develop a plan for doubling Columbia River Basin salmon runs within 25 years.
"The agreement marks the first time we have had a coastwide, conservation-based approach to wild salmon management," Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Jeff Koenings said.
Under the agreement, reached after months of negotiations, the tribes and the two states will attempt to produce a joint long-term plan to save fish by December 2003. It will focus on rebuilding runs of Snake River spring and summer chinook, Upper Columbia spring chinook and Snake River sockeye. Harvest rates will be adjusted based on the number of wild fish projected to return in a given year.
Officials hope to increase the salmon runs to 5 million fish and raise the proportion of wild salmon and steelhead to hatchery fish, Guy Norman of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said.
The agreement also sets guidelines for tribal, commercial and sport harvest of an unprecedented return of 364,000 spring chinook.
Hatchery fish will provide the bulk of the catch. Biologists expect nearly 300,000 will be adults released from hatcheries two and three years ago.
Leaders from the Yakama, Nez Perce, Umatilla and Warm Springs tribes and the governors of Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Montana say a long-term plan is vital to meeting Columbia River salmon recovery goals.
"This agreement has both logic and vision but, importantly, it provides the resource and fishers some level of certainty, something they haven't had much of in recent years," said Randy Settler, chairman of the Yakama Nation's fish and wildlife committee.
Tribal and state fisheries managers said the agreement will provide stability in both harvest and hatchery production and will allow managers to spend more time improving salmon habitat and their passage past hydroelectric dams.
The long-term plan will include a sliding scale to restrict harvest for the protection of threatened salmon stocks, ways to protect wild salmon from being caught along with hatchery salmon and a resolution of disagreements over hatchery policy.
Officials expect the federal government to endorse the plan as consistent with the requirements of the Endangered Species Act.
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