Tag Archives: Columbia River

Sea lions take big bite out of early salmon runs

Early runs of wild spring Chinook salmon returning to the Columbia River are bearing the brunt of sea lion attacks, a new study suggests. The fish arrive in early spring before sea lions have left for summer breeding grounds and when the pinniped population is especially high at the river’s mouth. These salmon see higher mortality rates compared to later runs and the numbers have started to climb even over prior years, corresponding with a growing number of sea lions recorded near Astoria. >click to read< 08:56

Gillnetters approve, anglers reel at Columbia River salmon policy change

A recent update to the state’s Columbia River salmon management policy to change harvest allocations and allow commercial gillnetting on the main stem has anglers reeling. “We’ve made a lot of changes over the last 30 years to how we fish in order to adjust to (federal Endangered Species Act) listings, in order to adjust to harvesting the best fish in the river at the best times,” said Robert Sudar, a commercial fishing advisor based in Longview. “It’s a totally different fishery than it was 30 to 40 years ago.” >click to read< 10:08

Federal officials approve Steller and California sea lions kill program along the Columbia River

As expected, federal officials on Friday approved a program to kill more than 700 sea lions along a nearly 200-mile stretch of the Columbia River and its tributaries in an effort to protect salmon at risk of extinction. The program is a significant step-up in existing efforts, and will be in place for five years. Targeted are both Steller and California sea lions, which will be darted with lethal levels of tranquilizing drugs by authorized teams from states and tribes. >click to read< 14:13

Historic fishing boat gets another chance – “an incredible piece of our region’s maritime history”

Kent Craford’s wife used to joke that she’d probably have to bury him in the old gillnet boat he bought on a whim when they were young and broke and that for years his children called “the rusty boat.” Many people’s boat dreams have sunk at the dock — to the despair of marina managers everywhere. But not the John M, Craford’s 113-year old wooden fishing boat. Yes, it nearly sank one day in 2010 when the pump failed and rainwater filled it. That was a turning point. >click to read< 07:55

Columbia River Salmon Rules Set

The directors of the Washington and Oregon departments of Fish and Wildlife reached an agreement this week on allocations and gear types for Columbia River salmon fisheries in 2020. The Washington and Oregon Fish and Wildlife commissions earlier this year delegated development of 2020 Columbia River fisheries to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) Director Curt Melcher and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Director Kelly Susewind.  >click to read< 12:10

Oregon suspends Columbia River reforms review, Spring Chinook allocation also in question

The Lower Mainstem Columbia River Fisheries Management Reforms were heavily negotiated and meant to ensure concurrency between the states of Washington and Oregon concerning salmon fishing rules on the Columbia River. It also provides a mechanism to move gill and tangle net commercial salmon fishing off the main stem of the river, and into off-channel fisheries. After five years, the states opened a review of the policy. Each state appointed three members of their fish and wildlife commissions to the Policy Review Committee, (PRC). The committee would then refer possible changes to the policy for eventual action by the full commissions. >click to read< 09:33

Letter | Save the salmon through lethal means, if necessary

California sea lions, harbor seals and cormorants have never been in danger of going extinct, but 11 distinct populations of salmon and steelhead are. Common sense should tell us we need to control the number of predators through lethal means. A professed sense of helping undernourished countries tells us we should not waste the meat. Canneries for centuries have been processing all kinds of high protein meat. I am quite sure the canneries would be willing to employ additional help at a lot less than is now being spent for all of our ESA efforts. by Carlisle Harrison  >click to read< 11:34

An experiment on the river – Researchers hope fish trap will be safer for wild fish

Fish traps have been outlawed in the Pacific Northwest for decades, but researchers plan to test an experimental trap in the Columbia River in hopes that it will be safer for wild fish than traditional fishing methods. Adrian Tuohy, a biologist and project manager for the Wild Fish Conservancy, said the proposed fish trap, also called a pound net, would be put in the Oregon side of the river so biologists can monitor how many fish are in the river and how many wild fish survive after being released. >click to read< 16:36

Cull! Plan Mulls Killing More Sea Lions to Save Salmon

Decades of efforts, including billions of dollars spent, to prevent the extinction of 13 species of Columbia River salmon and steelhead were stymied by the resurgence of gregarious mammals who themselves returned from the brink. Now, a new plan backed by Native American tribes and three states would attempt to protect the fish by killing more sea lions. >click to read< 08:54

Could Columbia River sturgeon become a source of high-end caviar? The Yakama Nation is counting on it

Ancestors of the Columbia sturgeon first emerged more than 200 million years ago, during the Triassic Period. One reason they’ve stuck around so long is they’re built like tanks. In lieu of scales, sturgeon have rows of armored plates called scutes, which run along their body. A long, flat snout conceals a mouth nearer their belly, from which they siphon up prey fish, like shad, lamprey, salmon and smelt. They can live 100 years and grow to 20 feet; big ones tip the scales at 1,500 pounds. One sturgeon could feed an entire village, and for centuries they did. >click to read< 10:50

NOAA makes plans for sea lion control

NOAA Fisheries has released a draft plan for public comment to remove and kill as many as 416 California and Steller sea lions each year in a 180 mile stretch of the Columbia River from just downstream of Bonneville Dam at river mile 112 upstream to McNary Dam at river mile 292.,,, Addressing sea lion predation is part of a comprehensive salmon and steelhead recovery strategy, NOAA says. ,,,“This action is intended to reduce or eliminate sea lion predation on the fishery stocks that are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973,” >click to read< 11:48

Proposal would kill more sea lions to protect fish

More than 1,100 sea lions could be killed annually along a stretch of the Columbia River on the Oregon-Washington border to boost faltering populations of salmon and steelhead, federal officials said Friday. The National Marine Fisheries Service said it’s taking public comments through Oct. 29 on the plan requested by Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Native American tribes. The agency says billions of dollars on habitat restoration, fish passage at dams and other efforts have been spent in the three states in the last several decades to save 13 species of Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead protected under the Endangered Species Act. >click to read<  13:43

Opinion: Why Bonneville can’t save salmon

The Northwest is not winning the battle to save wild salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River. Although most of the 12 listed salmonid stocks in the basin demonstrated a weak upward trend for a couple decades, that progress has stalled. Total returns of salmon and steelhead passing Bonneville Dam last year slipped to the second-lowest level in the past 18 years, and spring Chinook returns were 60 percent of the 10-year average. by Tom Karier >click to read<10:34

Lower Columbia River mainstem commercial gillnet fishing ; Non-treaty gillnetters get 45 hours through Aug. 29

With less than half of the 10-year average of fall Chinook salmon expected to return to the Columbia River this year, the two-state Columbia River Compact opened commercial gillnetting in the lower river and in pools upstream of Bonneville Dam for treaty commercial gillnetting.,,, The Compact met this week, Monday, Aug. 12, at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s regional office in Ridgefield to consider early fall Chinook mainstem gillnetting, deciding on 5 nine-hour overnight periods, for a 45-hour total for commercial non-treaty gillnetters beginning Aug. 14 and ending Aug. 29. >click to read< 16:34

Report: Fish passage above the Columbia’s biggest dam can be done

It’s been nearly 80 years since salmon and steelhead made it past Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee dams in Washington’s Upper Columbia Basin.,, A team of researchers presented their findings on Tuesday to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. In short, they said, salmon can survive in the upper reaches of the Columbia Basin, and fish passage needs to happen at the two dams. For several years biologists have looked into scenarios for salmon above the dams — if there was enough habitat available, if pathogens and predators wouldn’t cause too much damage, if there were even ways to get the fish around the concrete structures. >click to read<09:11

Last-ditch battle is underway to save Columbia River salmon, steelhead from determined predator

“In a lot of ways, the fight to save the Columbia River as we know it is going to be won and lost on Lake Roosevelt.” The enemy: northern pike.,,, The aggressive fish with razor-like teeth ended up in the Pend Oreille River sometime in the past decade – and kept going. This is bad news for the Columbia River’s salmon, trout, steelhead and other fish. Because the northern pike are big, determined predators. They’ll eat anything they can, including ducks. >click to read<11:00

Salmon-eating sea lions targeted at Columbia River dam

More California sea lions preying on imperiled salmon in the Columbia River below a hydroelectric project on the Oregon-Washington border are being killed under a revised policy, federal authorities said Friday. The National Marine Fisheries Service made public reduced criteria for removing sea lions at Bonneville Dam about 145 miles (235 kilometers) from the Pacific Ocean. The new guidelines that went into effect April 17 permit any California sea lion seen in the area on five occasions or seen eating a fish to be put on a list for lethal removal. >click to read<10:57

Dismal Columbia River salmon forecast may trigger emergency fishing restrictions

Fishery managers in Washington and Oregon are concerned the spring and summer chinook salmons runs on the Columbia River are going to be one of the lowest on record. And the state agencies are calling for a meeting next week to consider emergency restrictions on commercial and recreational fishing along parts of the river. By Friday morning, 189 adult salmon had crossed over Bonneville Dam. That’s less than 8 percent of the 10-year average of 2,392 fish for the same date. >click to read<09:24

Commercial fishing isn’t the main threat to habitat

A recent letter wondered why Gov. Inslee would allow gillnetters on the Columbia River. The fact is, in the environment in which orcas struggle to survive commercial fishers are the easiest element to manage.,,, Gillnetters catch limited numbers of salmon. But land developers and homeowners can destroy an entire salmon run permanently. The pesticides, fertilizers, weed killers, moss removers, and deck waterproofing folks liberally use around the house and yard are absolute fish killers. Personal care products, pain medications, antidepressants and other popular pharmaceuticals are either disposed of or excreted into our sewage systems and flushed into the Salish Sea and Columbia River. >click to read< by Arthur Lynch, Bainbridge Island

Chinook fisherman views life afloat as public service

Fishermen make good philosophers. Les Clark is no exception. “I have had a fantastic life,” said Clark, who turned 90 in December. “I had a lot of scrapes, but I survived all of them. All my buddies are gone. I wonder why I am still here. Maybe the good Lord needs me here to fight for the fish?” The concept of giving up his 32-foot F/V St. Frances II and not fishing solo doesn’t arise. “I am one of the older guys still on the river,” he said. His father Gene and Anna Clark of Chinook set the bar. “Dad fished till he was 90 and died at 98, and mom went to 97,” he smiled. >click to read<11:20

Columbia River Reforms – Change to gillnet policy stokes sport fishing anger

In a vote that has angered the sport fishing community, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission (WFWC) has voted to alter the Columbia River Salmon Policy 3620, known as the Columbia River Reforms, concerning the use of gillnets in the main stem Columbia River. The vote was held on March 2 in Spokane. The changes to the policy follow a five-year review, and recommendations from a joint-state task force that is composed of three commissioners from both states.,,, Hobe Kytr of Salmon For All, a commercial fishing advocacy group, sees the action as appropriate. “The policy that was enacted at the request of former Oregon Governor John Kitzaber has been a failure from the very beginning,” said Kytr. “It was a matter of putting a policy in place and then trying to find the scientific facts to back up the policy.” >click to read<11:30

Options presented for Washington’s ocean salmon fisheries based on predictions

Fish managers released their options for Washington’s ocean salmon fisheries that reflect recent concerns over projected chinook stocks and optimism about improved returns of coho. Three options for ocean salmon fisheries were approved Tuesday for public review by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC). Kyle Adicks, salmon fisheries policy lead for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says that the three alternatives are designed to protect the low numbers of chinook expected to return to the Columbia River and Washington’s ocean waters. >click to read<13:00

A major policy change – Washington State will allow gillnets in lower Columbia this fall

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has agreed to allow the use of gillnets during the fall salmon fishery on the lower Columbia River while state fishery managers work with their Oregon counterparts to develop a joint, long-term policy for shared waters. The move is a major change in policy. Washington policy, approved in 2013, intended for the commercial fishery to have completed a transition from gillnets to alternative gear this year and be relocated away from mainstem Columbia River areas. However, the use of alternative gear has not yet been refined and the off-channel areas have been determined to be unsuitable. >click to read<10:05

Salmon gill net fishing ban narrows focus to Columbia River

A push to ban non-tribal gill net fishing for salmon on the Columbia River is no shock to Pete Knutson, who has witnessed several similar attempts like it in his lifetime. “You can sell it to people who know nothing about the resource, and it sounds like a good idea,” Knutson said. Knutson owns Loki Fish Company, a business his entire family has helped build. It’s families like his that he’s worried about if the ban passes. “If you’re concerned about the resource, you want to keep those portions of the population that are living from the resource in business because they are the best stewards of the resource,” Knutson explained. >click to read<15:31

Sea lion bill signed into law by President Trump

Legislation that allows the lethal taking of sea lions that prey on at-risk fish populations on the Columbia River and select tributaries in Washington, Oregon and Idaho has been signed into law by President Donald Trump. The bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., makes slight changes to the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, which lays out prohibitions for killing marine mammals, and institutes a permit process for the lethal taking of sea lions. Permit holders are legally allowed to kill sea lions that are part of a population and/or stock that is not classified as being depleted or at risk.>click to read<20:41

Northwest Dams to Spill More Water to Help Salmon & Orca

Dam operators will send more water spilling over the eight dams along the Snake and Columbia rivers in an effort to help young salmon survive the notoriously deadly trip to the Pacific Ocean. The spill management plan for 2019 and 2020 is a win for salmon advocates in a 17-year legal battle where federal judges have repeatedly told the government it’s not doing enough to prevent the extinction of salmon in the rivers of the Northwest. It also brings that litigation into alignment with the work of a Washington state task force determined to prevent the extinction of Southern resident killer whales whose survival depends on endangered Chinook salmon. >click to read<12:03

Congress passes bill that will allow killing of sea lions to help salmon

Congress has agreed to make it easier to kill sea lions threatening fragile runs of salmon in the Northwest. Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that a bill approved by the House Tuesday changes the Marine Mammal Protection Act to lift some of the restrictions on killing sea lions to protect salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River and its tributaries. The measure had previously passed the Senate. Wildlife managers say sea lion populations have grown so large that they no longer need all the protections that were put in place for them in 1972. >click to read<10:14

Orcas, fishermen are both endangered species

Orcas and commercial salmon fishermen share a common crisis — both need more adult Chinook salmon to return to the Columbia River; orcas to avoid starvation, fishermen to sustain their livelihoods and families. Northwest orcas are starving and their population is declining — only 74 remain, in large part because their primary prey, Chinook salmon, have been pushed by dams, dewatering and habitat destruction to near extinction almost everywhere.,, Salmon fishermen too are now effectively an endangered species, and for the same reasons as orcas — their Chinook salmon prey. <click to read<

Feud over gill nets boils again

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission held a series of meetings at the Heathman Lodge in Vancouver from Thursday through Saturday to receive a report from state staff on the Columbia River Basin Salmon Management Policy C-3620, and review the results of that policy. During the Thursday meeting the WDWC was joined by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission. While the commissions heard the report and reviewed possible options for the future of the policy, members of the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) gathered outside the lodge to protest the prospect of the commission’s abandoning the policy entirely, which is one option being considered. >click to read<11:34

Columbia River commercial fishery could hinge on century-old method

A series of nets strung between pilings just off the Columbia River shore may offer a glimpse of the future of commercial fishing in the river, even though it harkens back to the fishing practices of a century ago. But some gillnetters say that the experimental fish trap, also known as a pound net, is just another unworkable idea for catching salmon that threatens their livelihoods. One morning last week, researchers from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Wild Fish Conservancy worked the fish trap set in the Columbia a few miles upstream of Cathlamet, near Nassa Point. >click to read<09:34