June 6th, 2012
The Columbia River Compact convened by teleconference at 9:00 a.m. Wednesday, June 6, 2012 to consider Treaty Tribal Fisheries in Zone 6. The US v. Oregon Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) met monday, June 4, 2012 to review the upriver spring Chinook run size. Upriver passage over Bonneville Dam totaled 168,313 adult spring Chinook as of June 5. Compared to the 5-year average, passage of the upriver spring Chinook run should be about 87% complete by June 5. TAC left the in-season run-size estimate at 209,400 adult fish.
During tribal testimony, tribal fishermen expressed considerable frustration that fishery managers seems to have been managing non-Indian fisheries based upon “paper fish;” in other words, fishing on the supposition of run-size projections. They were particularly upset by the two-day Memorial Day weekend sport fishery set on May 22nd, when it was entirely possible that the final run size would not be large enough to justify the non-Indian catch already in hand. The majority of lower river commercial fishermen preferred to forego another non-Indian commercial fishing opener in their public testimony during that Compact teleconference, rather than gamble with “deficit spending,” as Salmon For All President Jim Wells described it.
The discussion centered around whether or not to set a 24-hour tribal commercial gillnet fishery from noon Thursday, June 6 through noon Friday, June 8, 2012. The proposal was intended to catch the remainder of the tribal allocation, as well as to provide some economic opportunity for tribal fishermen. The four Columbia River Treaty Tribes did not reach a consesus on setting the gillnet opener, or on closing platform hook-and-line fisheries, also part of the proposal. The Yakama Nation, the largest of the Treaty Tribes, was in favor of both. The Warm Springs and Umatillas were hesitent to set a gillnet fishery, because they doubted that tribal fishermen could mobilize fast enough to take advantage of a 24-hour opener. Also, theydid not want to close the platform fisheries. The Nez Perce were not on the call to participate in the discussion, since they don’t fish in Zone 6. The Joint Management Staff expressed some anxiety with the tribal proposal, since even on paper, it had the potential of going over the tribal impact allocation. Those on the call agreed to discuss the issue further at 3:00 p.m. that afternoon. In the end, no action was taken.
Spring Fact Sheet No. 9 is appended as a PDF file. The subsequent Compact Action Notice will be posted when it becomes available.