HOOK AND FUR
By Bob Brown
Last week, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced anglers will be allowed to retain up to six adult hatchery coho on all tributaries of the lower Columbia River with hatchery programs. Those rivers include the Cispus, Cowlitz, Deep, Elochoman, Grays (including West Fork), Kalama, Klickitat, Lewis (including North Fork), Toutle (including Green and North Fork), Tilton, and Washougal rivers plus Lake Scanewa (Cowlitz Falls Reservoir).
Chinook retention is limited to marked hatchery fish on those river systems, except the Deep and Klickitat rivers, where unmarked chinook may be retained. Wild chinook may be retained on the Lewis River (including the North Fork) beginning Oct. 1.
Buoy 10 will open for chinook and hatchery coho Aug. 1-Sept. 1. Anglers will have a two-salmon daily limit, only one of which may be a chinook. Through Aug. 29, any chinook (marked or unmarked) may be kept. From Aug. 30 to Sept. 1, chinook must be adipose or left ventral fin clipped to be retained.
New this year: From Buoy 10 upstream to the Oregon-Washington border, each angler aboard a vessel may deploy recreational salmon/steelhead gear until the daily salmonid limit for all anglers aboard has been achieved. Also, boat anglers should be aware of Oregon’s new sport fishing closure at the mouth of Young’s Bay that runs from Aug. 1 through Sept. 15.
• During the week of July 14-20, Joe Hymer of the WDFW reported department personnel sampled 1,727 salmon anglers (including 209 boats) with 15 adult and 11 jack summer chinook, seven sockeye, and 550 steelhead.
Hymer also reported during the same week that Tacoma Power recovered 595 summer steelhead, 132 spring chinook adults, 78 jacks, 138 mini-jacks and one cutthroat during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery. Sampling taken of six boat anglers counted one adult spring chinook, and six summer steelhead. Twenty-one bank anglers had one steelhead kept and four chinook mini-jacks released. Two-hundred summer steelhead and one sockeye were recycled downstream to the Interstate 5 boat launch.
Effective Aug. 1, from the boundary markers at the mouth to 400 feet or posted markers below barrier dam, the salmon daily limit is six fish of which no more the two may be adult chinook. All salmon must be released except hatchery chinook and hatchery coho.
• NW Fishletter, produced by Energy NewsData, reported in its July 24 edition that NOAA Fisheries is calling for public comment on a draft environmental impact statement of two plans for managing Puget Sound hatcheries submitted by WDFW and tribes. One deals with chinook, while the other deals with coho, steelhead, pink salmon, chum and sockeye. Both deal with managing fish production to satisfy tribal harvest opportunities while reducing adverse impacts to listed salmonid stocks in the Sound.
Last April, WDFW agreed to a huge cut in the near-term releases of early winter hatchery steelhead into Puget Sound, after wild-fish advocates began litigation over the issue in March. The deal with wild-fish advocates who had gone to court established a truce for the next couple of years, noting earlier it would be hard to defend its current hatchery steelhead operations since genetic management plans had not been approved by NOAA Fisheries.
According to NOAA Fisheries, the resource management plans, originally developed in 2004, are the proposed frameworks that the department and tribes would jointly use to manage Puget Sound salmon and steelhead hatchery programs.
The proposed draft plans include four alternatives would:
1. Maintain a status quo operations of 147 million total releases.
2. Maintain current production levels and harvest levels, but contain some “adaptive management conservation measures” to reduce risks to listed species.
3. Cut hatchery production for by 50 percent for all chinook, coho and steelhead where strategies are in place to protect and recover local chinook populations, “and where management actions use the most locally adapted stock to re-establish natural production in watersheds in which suitable habitat exists but indigenous chinook populations no longer occur.” Annual tribal harvest would decline by seven percent.
4. Increase production from existing facilities.
NOAA Fisheries said it would identify a preferred alternative in its final EIS (environmental impact statement), which could include elements of the four under review. The feds said the EIS itself will not determine whether or not the hatchery operations meet Endangered Species Act compliance, but will inform the agency, hatchery operators and the public about the cumulative effects of the operations.
Additional information can be found on NOAA’s website.
Bob Brown is a freelance outdoors writer. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org