January 15th, 2013
The 2013 Joint Management Staff Report is a cautionary tale of declining abundance, largely due to increasing predation by Stellar sea lions. Stellar sea lions became interested in broodstock sturgeon in the spawning sanctuary below Bonneville Dam within the past half-dozen years. Team diving, likened to an attack by a pack of wolves, Stellar sea lions began to harass, and then drag broodstock females up from the bottom of the deep pool below Bonneville Dam, after which the belly would be ripped open and the egg-mass consumed. More often than not, the rest of the fish was discarded.
It is now believed that predation on sub-legal sturgeon is taking place throughout the lower Columbia River. As a result, both the Fish & Wildlife Commissions of Oregon and Washington urged a cautionary approach to sturgeon harvest management. Initially no harvest of legal-size white sturgeon was to be allowed, starting January 2013. That provision has now been postponed until January 2014.
The 2013 Joint Staff Report on Stack Status and Fisheries for Sturgeon and Smelt is appended as a PDF file. Those still on dial -up should be aware that the file size is large, at 992 KB.