Bulletin: Jan. 6, 2013 Industrial gillnetters File Court Action to Stop Oregon's New Selective Salmon Rules. Read The Full Story @ Gillnet Lawsuit Link! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Oregon Adopts Sportfishing-First Plan; Will Washington Support Salmon Revolution?
Decison Due Jan. 12
Historic Columbia Salmon Reforms Underway; Protesting Gillnetters Shifted To Select Hatchery Zones.
By Terry W. Sheely
Sport-fishing is poised to become the priority consideration in Columbia River salmon allocations for the first time in modern history, a sweeping re-direction that revolutionizes state management policies and could see the iconic river develop into a national destination fishery.
Oregon fish and wildlife commissioners adopted most of a salmon management plan proposed and pushed by Governor John Kitzhaber built around a new strategy that will phase-out non-selective gillnets on the mainstem Columbia by 2017, convert mainstem industrial fishing to selective seines, and shift salmon allocations to heavily favor recreational fishermen.
The commission action also now requires sport fishermen to fish with barbless hooks in the main Columbia and Willamette rivers and some tributaries
Washington fish and wildlife commissioners are expected to follow suit and adopt the Oregon strategy at their January 11-12 meeting in Olympia. Both states share jurisdiction on the boundary waters and will reach an agreement in order to have unified management and enforcement strategies.
Industrial net fishermen, however, are continuing to lobby hard to retain non-selective mainstem gillnetting rights despite the incidental bycatch mortality inherent in gillnet mesh that is inflicted on ESA listed steelhead, wild salmon and other non-targeted fish including imperiled white sturgeon.
If agreed upon by both states the shift will mark the first major reform in salmon allocation policies in 70 years. The shift is being hailed as a triumphant acknowledgement of the economic dominance of sport-fishing to the region, and a significant step toward salmon, steelhead and sturgeon recovery. The governor’s plan does not push gillnetters completely off the river, as was proposed in the ballot initiative proposed last fall by CCA-Oregon, but does limit them to selective hatchery zones away from main migration routes that are used by ESA and non-targeted species. Commercial gillnetters are resolute in their opposition to the reforms and are expected to carry the battle into the legislatures where the industrial lobby has historically enjoyed dominating successes.
If enacted as approved by the commissioners the reforms, “will be the end of the commercial fishery on the Columbia River,'' confirms Jim Wells, head of Salmon For All, a commercial fishing group based in Astoria. (We can only hope-TWS)
Or "this is a good example of getting ready for the future.” as Jim Martin, former ODFW fisheries manager and now conservation director of Pure Fishing, tackle makers, believes,
Under the new management strategy, by 2017 recreational fishermen will be entitled to 80 percent of the spring chinook, tule fall chinook and upriver brights, and non-selective gillnets will be restricted exclusively to off-channel areas where they can selectively target enhanced runs of imprinted hatchery salmon while sparing ESA listed wild steelhead and salmon that migrate in the mainstem channels. Those endangered fish, now killed as “incidental bycatch” in the gillnet fishery, may still be taken in seines but will be released with little or no damage. Seines have a proven mortality rate of 1 to 3 percent, compared to 30 to 50 percent for anadromous fish gill-snagged in gillnets.
Relocating gillnets into select areas is expected to spare if not completely eliminate bycatch mortality and waste which in recent seasons has sometimes equaled the legal catch of targeted commercial fish.
The Ashbrook Tangle Net Study of catches below Bonneville Dam documents a gillnet set that caught 1,218 legal chinook and another 1,213 fish that were discarded as bycatch. That same 1-to-1 ratio was found two years ago in a similar study collected by observers. During the two-day net drop gillnetters recorded a legal catch of 4,786 summer chinook AND 4,600 illegal fish that were discarded.
The legal-to-waste percentages vary with each non-selective net set but remain at levels that CCA-Washington calls “alarming,” and in the words of CCA activist Harry Barber, “clear proof of the need to eliminate gillnets and tangle nets from the mainstem of the Columbia River downstream of Bonneville Dam.”
CCA drew those numbers from WDFW research, and sent the information to the Washington commissioners as evidence of why they need to follow Oregon’s lead and adopt the new strategy this month.
The reform plan, as approved in Oregon, has a transition period from 2013 to 2016 with a steady increments in salmon allocations that will be reserved for sport fishing, corresponding decreases in commercial allocations and huge increases in the number of hatchery salmon smolts imprinted and released in the lower river select net zones.
Also on the table is a five-fish limit on springers in the Columbia, required barbless hooks, rubber-mesh landing nets that avoid scale damage and a sport-fishing closure zone in part of the Buoy 10 fishery, and a requirement that Oregon anglers will need to buy Columbia River endorsement stamps similar to Washington. It’s not yet clear if these options, except for the barbless hooks, will be enacted, however.
Key provisions adopted by Oregon include: * Prioritizing recreational fisheries in the mainstem Columbia and commercial fisheries in off-channel areas. * Transitioning mainstem commercial gear away from gillnets to beach and purse seines. * Phasing out mainstem gillnets by non-tribal fishers by 2017. (Tribal gillnet fisheries are unaffected). *To offset the commercial loss of mainstem salmon the states say they will increase the number of hatchery fish imprinted to return to off-channel select gillnet areas. An additional one million spring chinook, 920,000 coho, and 500,000 select area bright fall chinook smolts will be released annually during the transition period, and possibly increased after that. * The sport share of mainstem salmon will be incrementally increased over the next three years. By 2017 sports will get 80 percent of the spring chinook and 100 percent of summer chinook. * Salmon and steelhead anglers fishing in the mainstem Columbia, Willamette and some Oregon tributaries required to use barbless hooks beginning immediately. * Impose a Columbia River endorsement stamp/fee on Oregon anglers. The endorsement fee has been required of Washington anglers for several years.
As approved by the Oregon Commissioners and now before the Washington commission the plan steadily shifts allocation to the sport fishery until the 2017 when recreatonal fishing industry will receive 80% of the major runs.
Oregon's Barbless Rivers: The Oregon barbless hook rule affects the main Columbia up to the Oregon/Washington border and specific lower tributaries in Oregon.
Included are: Willamette River mainstem below Willamette Falls, includes the Multnomah Channel and Gilbert River. Lower Clackamas River upstream to Hwy 99E bridge. Youngs River from Hwy 101 bridge upstream to markers at confluence with Klaskanine River. Lewis and Clark River from Hwy 101 bridge upstream to Alternate Hwy 101 bridge. Walluski River from confluence with Youngs River upstream to Hwy 201 bridge. Gnat Creek from railroad bridge upstream to Aldrich Point Road. Knappa/Blind Slough select areas.
There’s a chance that similar barbless rules for Washington tributaries will be handed down by Washington later this month.
Gillnetter, Tribal Opposition Looms: For sport-fishermen, equity and salmon-steelhead recovery is far from a done-deal, however.
The politically influential gillnetters promise to fight the new strategy in the state legislatures and are lining up support from community leaders in lower river towns, and sympathetic state representatives and senators, who bitterly oppose the changes.
It’s also possible the historic salmon plan could be targeted by upriver tribes. Those tribes are unhappy that the governor did not consult them before publicizing his plan, contending that all fish allocation changes should be determined by regional advisory committees that oversee federal management of the Columbia fishery.
They have not indicated what action, if any, they will take, but have publicly worried that the increased sports allocation will cut into their share of fish. They have lashed out at the Oregon governor claiming that he forced the state commissioners to enact fisheries harvest reform.
“The tribes are disappointed that the Governor of Oregon responded to political pressures and forced the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission to hastily approve significant changes to the lower Columbia River fisheries,’’ says Paul Lumley, executive director of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission.
The reforms “essentially reallocates a scarce resource with no demonstrated benefits for rebuilding natural spawning runs,’’ Lumley adds. The tribes, he says, are more interested in rebuilding salmon populations, than “fighting over allocations.’’
In the meantime, all eyes are on Washington’s nine-member fish and wildlife commission to see if they follow Oregon’s lead or hold out for revisions. Because of the tremendous interest and conflicting sides of the issue, the commissioners have moved the January 11-12 meeting to the more spacious Comfort Inn Conference Center at 1620 74th Ave. SW. in Tumwater. Expect crowds. The meeting is being streamed live on the web at: www.tvw.org. beginning at 8:30.