OLYMPIA – The public is invited to attend a meeting scheduled this month by members of the Washington and Oregon fish and wildlife commissions to discuss next steps in reforming salmon management on the Columbia River.
The meeting is set for Jan. 17 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission Room, 4034 Fairview Industrial Dr. S.E. in Salem, Ore. The public is welcome to observe the discussion, but will not have an opportunity to comment during the meeting.
The Joint-State Columbia River Salmon Fishery Policy Review Committee, which includes three members of each state’s commission, was formed to renew efforts to achieve management goals for Columbia River fisheries endorsed by both states in 2013.
The three delegates to the workgroup from the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission are commissioners David Graybill from Chelan County, Bob Kehoe from King County, and Don McIsaac from Clark County. The commission is a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
WDFW recently finalized its five-year performance review of the 2013 fishery reform policy, which called for reforms ranging from requirements that anglers use barbless hooks to a phase-out of commercial gillnets in the main channel of the Columbia River. While the performance review noted progress on some issues, expectations have not been met in a variety of other key areas, said Ryan Lothrop, WDFW Columbia River policy coordinator.
“This new effort is designed to find common ground on strategies for improving fishery management in the Columbia River,” Lothrop said. “Having different policies in joint waters of the Columbia River makes it very difficult to manage and implement fisheries.”
Washington’s Comprehensive Evaluation of the Columbia River Basin Salmon Management Policy is available on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/
Lothrop, who will staff Washington’s commissioners, said the workgroup’s first task will be to establish a schedule for future meetings. The panel will then discuss issues addressed in the policy review, focusing initially on strategies that could to be incorporated into fishing regulations for the 2019 season.
To take effect, any new proposals endorsed by the workgroup would require approval by the full fish and wildlife commissions in each state, Lothrop said.
“The group doesn’t have a lot of time to discuss changes for 2019,” Lothrop said. “The season-setting process for this year’s salmon fisheries gets underway in mid-March, so that’s the focus for the near term.”