February 27th, 2012
The Columbia River Compact convened by teleconference on Monday, February 27 to consider non-Indian commercial mainstem fishing time for spring Chinook and Treaty Tribal fishing time for sturgeon and spring Chinook. It is still quite early in the season for spring Chinook, but the early fishery is more likely to catch large, 5-year old fish, whether of Willamette River stocks or upriver stocks. Also, since early in the season there are fewer fish on the market, the price per pound tends to be correspondingly higher than later in the season. The drawback to fishing early is that abundance of winter steelhead is also high, requiring the use of large-mesh nets by the non-Indian commercial fleet. Large-mesh nets have a higher release rate for unmarked fish during the mark-selective fishery for spring Chinook.
Although there had been some sentiment expressed among members of the non-Indian commercial fleet for early fishing opportunity to take advantage of market conditions, the majority of the testimony during the Compact teleconference was in favor of waiting until the chinook to steelhead ratio is more favorable than at present.
No action was taken regarding the lower river, non-Indian fishery. The Treaty Tribal recommendations were adopted as submitted. Test fishing in the lower river will resume Sunday, March 4, with a Compact to follow on Monday, March 5, 2012 if warranted by the test fishing results.
Winter Fact Sheet No. 3and the subsequent Compact Action Notice are appended below as PDF files.