OLYMPIA – Anglers who fish for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River basin will no longer be required to purchase an endorsement to do so beginning July 1.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has collected an $8.75 annual fee – known as the Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement – from anglers to fish for salmon and steelhead in the region since 2010. The department has used revenue from the endorsement to monitor and enforce fisheries in the Columbia River Basin.
WDFW’s legislative authority to implement the Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement ends June 30. Anglers and Columbia River fishing guides are still required under state law to obtain an endorsement to fish for salmon or steelhead in the Columbia River until July 1. The department will not be issuing refunds as anglers have had opportunity to use the endorsement and it remains a state requirement through June 30.
A valid fishing license – a freshwater, combination, or Fish Washington license – is required at all times to fish the Columbia River. The agency is also working on modifying the Fish Washington license package, which includes the endorsement.
In order to have fisheries in waters such as the Columbia River where there are fish protected by the federal Endangered Species Act, WDFW is required to closely monitor those fisheries and enforce regulations. However Columbia River guided fishing opportunities will still be available for certain species during the season.
The department is assessing how the loss of revenue from the endorsement will affect salmon and steelhead fisheries in the Columbia basin once the endorsement expires, said Kelly Susewind, WDFW Director. That could mean changes to salmon and steelhead fisheries this fall and next spring.
“The endorsement provided needed funding for monitoring and enforcement activities,” Susewind said. “We’re evaluating our path forward with these fisheries, which not only provide good opportunities for anglers but also significant economic benefits to communities in the Columbia River Basin.”
WDFW had requested that the Legislature extend the Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement through June 2023. However, the Legislature did not reauthorize the endorsement, allowing it to expire at the end of June.
WDFW is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting and other outdoor recreation opportunities.