The forecast for Columbia River smelt will be similar to the runs in the past two years.
Despite some positive indicators, because the fish is listed under the Endangered Species Act, there will be no recreational or commercial fishing for smelt this year.
Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon made their 2013 forecast after looking at various indicators of abundance.
Positive abundance indicators for 2013 include modest improvement in adult smelt returns during 2008, a relatively high level of Age 1-plus bycatch during 2009 and a relatively high level of Age 2-plus bycatch during 2010 in the Canadian ocean shrimp fisheries, favorable ocean conditions during most of the ocean-phase for 2008-10 fish and anecdotal accounts of an increase in the numbers of older age class smelt bycatch in U.S. ocean shrimp fisheries in 2011.
But any positive signs are countered by several negative factors.
Those factors include low mainstem Columbia River larval densities during the winters of 2008-10, decreasing adult smelt biomass tonnage in the 2010-12 Canadian ocean shrimp fisheries, warm ocean conditions during the end of 2009 and beginning of 2010, and weak adult landings for brood 2008-10.
The mixed bag of positive and negative indicators, does not readily point toward improving or declining returns in 2013, said a news release from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. The 2013 return is likely to be somewhat similar to the past two years, given that indicators for the 2011 and 2012 returns were similar to those listed above.
Following the ESA listing of Columbia River smelt in May 2010, Washington and Oregon enacted permanent rules prohibiting smelt harvest in recreational and commercial fisheries in the mainstem Columbia and its tributaries.
Commercial fishing closed permanently effective Dec. 1, 2010, and recreational fishing closed permanently effective Jan. 1, 2011.