Decisions coming soon on Columbia salmon reforms

purse seineThe Washington and Oregon fish and wildlife commissions will decide in the next two months whether to implement fully in 2017 the biggest overhaul of Columbia River salmon policies in seven decades. Reforms adopted by both states in early 2013 allocated more chinook salmon to sportsmen in the main Columbia and restricted gillnetting to off-channel sites like Youngs Bay near Astoria. The reforms also called for commercial fishing that remained in the main Columbia to be done with live-capture methods — such as purse seines and beach seines — designed to harvest hatchery stocks and release wild fish. The reforms had a four-year transition period, which ends Dec. 31. Full implementation was to begin on Jan. 1. But, there have been issues during the 2013-2016 transition period. The effort to stock more chinook and coho in off-channel spots, and development of new off-channel places, has met with some success, but failures, too. Testing of beach and purse seines in the main Columbia have found much higher mortality rates of released fish than anticipated four years ago. Read the rest here 12:38

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