Columbia River Management Reform

Removing Gillnets From the Columbia River

The Columbia River Management Reform initiated by the governor and approved by the legislature would have gillnets removed from the main stem Columbia River. However, The Oregon and Washington Fish and Wildlife Commissions are once again considering proposals to backtrack on the promises made to recreational anglers as part of the original Columbia River Reform Policy Agreement. A great many of our members, including those of the Columbia River Chapter located in Vancouver, Washington, fish for salmon and steelhead on the Columbia River and are deeply concerned about the Commission’s policy direction concerning Columbia River fisheries management reform. The original reform policies were developed and approved by the states of Washington and Oregon in order to resolve persistent conflicts and provide certainty for fisheries in the lower mainstem Columbia. Northwest Steelheaders supported adoption of these policy reforms, and we continue to support their full implementation, including the commitments to:

(a) to improve the selectivity and conservation value of lower mainstem non-treaty commercial salmon fisheries through the replacement of gillnet fisheries with alternative mark-selective, live-release fisheries

(b) to optimize the economic and social benefits to our region through the prioritization of recreational fisheries on the mainstem.

Sport anglers have been supporting the implementation of the agreement, which includes enhanced off-channel harvest areas for commercial fishers, with millions of dollars in extra fees we paid through the Columbia River Endorsement. Recreational anglers and sportfishing industry organizations have traditionally been some of the most vocal supporters of the agency and Commission before the legislature. That support is being undermined, however, not only by declining fishing opportunity, but as a result of agency and Commission missteps, such as the Commission’s ill-advised March 2019 decision to revive and extend non-selective gill netting on the lower Columbia, and to reduce the public recreational fishery’s share of the catch in favor of commercial exploitation by private interests.

We encourage our supporters to provide their views directly to the Joint-State Columbia River Salmon Fishery Policy Review Committee (PRC) through this Public Comment Form.

In the Press

  • The Columbian: Oregon Suspends Columbia River Reforms Review (January 29, 2020)