April 5th, 2012
The Columbia River Compact convened by teleconference at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 5, 2012 to consider the ongoing recreational fishery for spring Chinook below Bonneville Dam. In the Compact-Joint State Action Notice for January 26, 2012, the recreational fishery for spring Chinook below Bonneville was scheduled to close Friday, April 6, 2012. The Joint State hearing for April 5 was called to consider extending the recreational fishery.
During tribal testimony, Bruce Jim read an impassioned statement on behalf of the Treaty Tribes, begging that no additional fishing time below Bonneville be granted until and unless the run starts to show up in appreciable numbers. As of April 4, only 49 adult upriver spring Chinook had passed over Bonneville Dam. He said, “You are managing the run based on paper fish that have not begum to materialize. Our people cannot eat paper fish.” According to the tribal calculations cited by Bruce Jim, the run is not only the latest on record, but the actual run size likely is much lower than the pre-season forecast. His figures came in at only 105,000 upriver fish, compared to the pre-season forecast of 314,200.
The Joint Management Staff on the other hand expressed confidence the run will show up, based on the recent uptick in catch by the recreational fleet in the lower river, and the commercial catch on Tuesday, April 3, 2012. While not dismissing tribal concerns, managers proposed to make conservative, incremental adjustments to ongoing sport and commercial fisheries, with the cautionary note that for the time being it might be prudent to manage for a lower run size than the forecast predicted.
The Staff recommendation was to extend the recreational fishery below Bonneville Dam until Friday, April 13, 2012, with a Tuesday closure on April 10 to allow for additional commercial fishing time, for a total extension of 6 days for the recreational fleet. Another Joint State hearing was schedued for noon on Thursday, April 12 to another look at the ongoing fishery and how the run is progressing.
Winter Fact Sheet No. 8 and the subsequent Joint State Action Notice are appended as PDF files.