July 14, 2016

Federal Managers Announce Review of Columbia River Salmon, Steelhead Fishing Limits

On July 1, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced they will prepare a joint Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that will inform their programmatic review and ultimate new management plan for allowable annual fish harvests of salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River. 

The joint EIS and new management plan, once adopted, will cover allowable harvests for sport, commercial, and tribal fisheries throughout the Columbia River in the states of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, with the new plan going into effect in 2018 and setting up a management framework for the foreseeable future. In order to help inform the decision from NFMS and USFWS on harvest levels, state and tribal leaders from all three states will be working to develop a cooperative plan for managing and regulating fisheries on the Columbia River. The cooperative agreement between the states and tribes, that ultimately submitted requests for federal approval, will also be required to address production levels for hatchery salmon and steelhead on the Columbia. 

NMFS is currently offering six alternative management directions for public consideration in order to determine a preferred alternative that will determine the agency’s management and policy direction on the Columbia moving forward. The alternatives include a no-action (status quo) alternative; an abundance-based management alternative; a fixed exploitation rate management alternative; an escapement-based management alternative; a fixed-effort based management alternative; and a no fisheries alternative. Further summaries of each management alternative can be found on the July 1 Federal Register Notice that announced the development of the draft EIS. NMFS is accepting public comments on preferred alternatives and draft EIS until August 1, 2016, to further inform the development of the new management plan on the Columbia.

Recreational fishing is a major economic driver and conservation force in Idaho, Oregon and Washington, and accounts for a combined 34,500 jobs and $2.4 billion in spending across the three states.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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