Fishing issues will be among the key topics discussed when the state Fish and Wildlife Commission meets Friday and Saturday.
The nine-member commission is expected to vote on Columbia River fishery management proposals. Department of Fish and Wildlife staff will review and discuss the draft management policy with the commission. Leading the review will be Guy Norman, director of the agency’s southwest region.
The commission and its counterpart in Oregon have been working to develop new management guidelines that will make recreational fisheries the priority in the mainstem Columbia River and commercial fisheries in off-channel areas.
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the new management framework for Columbia River fisheries on Dec. 7.
A group with representatives from each state developed the recommendations to restructure salmon and sturgeon fisheries in the lower Columbia. The work group — assembled at the request of Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber — included members from each state’s fish and wildlife commissions.
Among the recommendations:
• Transitioning commercial fisheries remaining in the mainstem Columbia River to alternative gear, such as beach and purse seines.
• Phasing out the use of gillnets by nontribal fishers in the mainstem by 2017, while maintaining the economic viability of the commercial fishery.
• Gradually increasing the catch share of salmon for the sport fishery in the mainstem over the next four years and by 2017 providing 100 percent of the summer and mainstem spring chinook harvest to the sport fishery, while increasing spring chinook opportunity for the commercial fishery in the off-channel areas.
• Considering catch-and-release only recreational fisheries for white sturgeon in the lower river, as well as the coast and Puget Sound, to protect lower Columbia River-origin white sturgeon. Closing nontribal commercial fisheries for white sturgeon in the lower river and coast also would be considered.
This discussion is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday. The public will be allowed to comment on the proposals.
Also on the agenda, at 3 p.m. Friday, is a briefing on proposed changes in fishing rules for 2013-14.