Washington Wildlife Commission Upholds Gillnet Ban!!!

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Washington Wildlife Commission Upholds Gillnet Ban!!!

Postby House » Sat Jan 12, 2013 2:46 pm

The following appears courtesy of the CCA's Heath Heikkila:

Moments ago the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission voted 9-0 to adopt the Columbia River fishery reform policy. The room was once again packed with CCA members who spent another Saturday morning in Olympia making their presence felt.

The Commission did make some changes to the policy to strengthen it legally, including additional detail on the adaptive management provisions. They also made what I view as a minor change to the 2013 springer allocation and long term summer chinook mgmt.

Nonetheless, the changes only underscore the need to stay very active overseeing the implementation of this policy to make sure the outcome is what we expect.

Now that Washington has followed Oregon in adopting this policy, I would like to congratulate you on this significant milestone in Pacific Northwest fisheries management. It wouldn't have happened without the efforts of so many of you in both states.

As Mr. Proctor wrote in the latest TIDE perhaps this is the end of the beginning. We have much more to do, including defending these decisions in court and overseeing their implementation.

Regards, Heikkila, Heath
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Re: Washington Wildlife Commission Upholds Gillnet Ban!!!

Postby House » Sat Jan 12, 2013 4:09 pm

Here's the WDFW Press Release:

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

January 12, 2013
Contact: Commission Office, (360) 902-2267
WDFW Region 5 Office, (360) 696-6211

Commission approves policy to revamp Columbia River fisheries

OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission today unanimously adopted a policy that establishes a new management framework for salmon fisheries on the lower Columbia River.

The commission, a nine-member citizen panel that sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), took action after completing a series of public meetings that began in October 2012. In all, the commission received about 1,000 public comments on the broad-based proposal.

Key provisions of the new policy will allocate more of the catch to sport fisheries, gradually shift non-tribal commercial gillnets to off-channel areas stocked with more hatchery salmon, and spur development and use of new selective gear for commercial fisheries on the mainstem Columbia River.

The new policy also requires anglers to use barbless hooks when fishing for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River. The commission directed the department to adopt rules to make permanent a temporary barbless hook rule that took effect Jan. 1.

Miranda Wecker, commission chair, said the new policy is designed to support conservation of wild salmon and expand the economic benefits the state derives from sport and commercial fisheries.

"This policy realigns Columbia River fisheries to achieve a number of longstanding goals," she said. "It also includes annual reviews, giving the commission an opportunity to make changes if the new policy falls short of those goals."

The changes are based on recommendations made by representatives from the Washington commission and its Oregon counterpart and comments received during the extensive public review. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission approved a similar management framework for Columbia River fisheries last month.

"For nearly 100 years, our two states have managed Columbia River fisheries under a reciprocal agreement," Wecker said. "Without a common framework, effective management of those fisheries would be impossible."

The policies adopted by both states include plans to phase out the use of gillnets by 2017 in non-tribal fisheries on the Columbia below Bonneville Dam. They also include commitments to increase the number of fish stocked in off-channel areas to off-set reductions in commercial fishing opportunities on the mainstem of the Columbia.

The anticipated move of gillnets to off-channel areas depends on the success of developing and using alternative selective gear, said WDFW Director Phil Anderson.

"A key goal of this policy is to maintain or increase the economic viability of both recreational and commercial fisheries," he said. "The timetable established in the policy depends on achieving that goal."

Anderson said the changes outlined in the policy will allocate more salmon and steelhead to recreational fisheries, but will not necessarily reduce the incidental catch of wild salmon and steelhead protected under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

"Impacts on ESA-listed salmon are tightly regulated in both fisheries," he said. "But the successful development of selective commercial gear would allow the harvest of more hatchery salmon, reducing interactions between hatchery fish and wild salmon in natural spawning areas."
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Re: Washington Wildlife Commission Upholds Gillnet Ban!!!

Postby Medium D » Sat Jan 12, 2013 6:20 pm

WoW, this is big.... Thank You WFWC, for seeing this through. A 9-0 vote makes a strong statement and gets our fisheries heading in a direction that is long over-do. This is not the time to sit back and celebrate, as the work has just begun. That being said, this is a huge step towards a positive future...
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