SALEM, Ore.–After more than six hours of testimony by sport and commercial fishers before the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, the Commission set the management objectives for the 2008 Columbia River spring chinook fishery.
By unanimous vote, the commission set the objectives as follows:
- Allow recreational fishing from I-5 Bridge upstream to Bonneville Dam six- days-per-week through April 30
- Allow recreational fishing from Bonneville to McNary Dam seven-days-per-week from March 16-May 10
- Allow commercial fishers to harvest approximately 6,000 upriver spring chinook from I-5 Bridge upstream to Beacon Rock
- Open commercial Select Area fisheries from mid-February through mid-June;
- Allow recreational Willamette River fishing seven-days-per-week
The Commission also expressed strong support for a recently begun stakeholder process that brings together commercial and sport fishermen to find common ground on Columbia River spring chinook management.
“We have great hope and are not giving up on the search for common ground,” said Chair Marla Rae.
Testimony took most of the day and commissioners deliberated for another 90 minutes before making a decision. “This was an extremely tough issue and we listened intently to a number of passionate people,” said Dan Edge, the vice-chair for the Commission.
“In the end, I believe we set realistic objectives that respect the conservation of the salmon while allowing harvest opportunity for healthy, hatchery stocks.”
Because previous allocation guidelines expired Dec. 31, speculation had increased among the sport and commercial fishers on whether spring chinook salmon catch ratios would change.
One quarter of the commercial fishery objective will be set aside as a buffer prior to May 1 of which only a portion can be used to meet sport fishery objectives.
“Given the dynamic between the two returns, we’ve outlined a fishery that will meet hatchery broodstock needs in the Willamette River and give robust sport fishing opportunities in the Willamette and Columbia rivers,” said Steve Williams, Columbia River Program Administrator.
“We want to continue to work with the sport and commercial fishing industry to create a stable and sustainable fishery,” he added.
The 2008 spring Chinook seasons for sport and commercial fisheries will be set at the joint state hearing of Washington and Oregon fishery managers at 10 a.m., Feb. 15 at the Water Resource Education Center located at 4600 SE Columbia Way in Vancouver, Wash.