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David Johnson

Guiding in the NW and Alaska for 19 years, Degree in Fisheries, long time ifish guide

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July 07, 2014

Another Potential Loss of Fisheries

by David Johnson

There are troubled waters ahead. The Northwest Power and Conservation Council wants to cut funding for the tribe's hatchery programs, and without them we will be left with the states providing us fish, and we all know that the future of that isn't bright.

I know many of you have a dislike for tribal fishing on the Columbia River but without them we WOULD NOT be having the fishing that we have had the last several years and WE WILL NOT have as good fishing in the future

I know this is short notice but I only got word of it today and tomorrow is the meeting but they will take written comment through July 25.

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council published a draft program that would remove years of locally-developed hatchery practices that are rebuilding abundance and setting a trajectory for delisting in favor of a hypothetical formula that would cut successful hatchery programs in the mid and upper Columbia. If this arbitrary set of standards for hatcheries is applied as written, cutting-edge hatchery programs like the Snake River Fall Chinook Program that the Nez Perce Tribe and other co-managers implement that could be dismantled. The very program that has taken Snake River fall chinook from 78 returning adults in 1990 to 21,000 wild fish in 2013 could be gutted with a 90% reduction. Hatchery production above Bonneville Dam would be reduced by 20% overall.

The damage won't stop there. The proposed amendments would be a significant blow to the tribal members and sport anglers who rely on the fisheries that these programs support. They would decrease fishing opportunities and impact the many communities that receive an economic boost from fishing enthusiasts.

On July 8, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council will be holding a public hearing on the proposed Fish and Wildlife Amendments at the Council's Central Office in Portland. This is an important opportunity for those who enjoy the bounty of Columbia Basin salmon to tell the Northwest Power and Conservation Council that we want salmon, both hatchery and wild.

All of us in this region need to rally behind our successes. A fish and wildlife program developed by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council should support and add value to the Columbia Basin's successful projects, not hamper them by becoming a new regulatory framework.

The 2013 Columbia River fall chinook return was one that was celebrated throughout the region. More than 1.2 million fall chinook made their way to the Columbia River, and among them, a significant run of Snake River chinook. The 2014 return is expected to be even higher. But these gains can be swept away unless these mitigation programs continue to be based on locally developed guidelines that reflect sound scientific practices and respect the ground-breaking work being accomplished every day in fisheries across the Northwest.

How to submit a comment:
Comments can be submitted online at:


: PublicComments@nwcouncil.org

Attend the Portland Hearing:
Tuesday, July 8
Portland, OR
Council Central Office
851 SW 6th Ave Suite 1100
Portland, OR 97204

Deadline to comment is July 25, 2014.

Comments (9)

duke1122 wrote 3 years ago

The very name, Northwest Power and Conservation Council, should tell all but the anti fishing and hunting groups what the agenda is. It is not about the fish, it is about keeping everyone off the river, then rip out more dams. The day will come when even the barges and wheat farmers will be history.

FentonFly wrote 3 years ago

Your so spot on Dave! Sadly the younger community has no clue of the reality of what you are even talking about. So glad I lived and experienced what real fishing was and what real fishing could be! Times have changed! I saw you as a young man on the Clackamas with your father and knew you would be a great fisherman. Having grown up in the 50's, 60's, and experienced what great fishing was with hatchery programs, I feel sick with the direction we are heading.

We are owed these fish by mitigation! Sadly though we are headed in the wrong direction! I've seen the best and will still enjoy fishing as long as the good lord allows me to breath.

pijon wrote 3 years ago

And now the truth behind the anti hatchery lies and flawed studies. Its all about the money. So much for mitigation. I see a massive lawsuit on the horizon.

BillH wrote 3 years ago

I fully agree but there seems a flaw in the concept that we have gotten 90,000 "wild" fish out of 78 parents in such a short time. Perhaps if the "injuns" fin clipped their hatchery production we would have more harvestable hatchery fish and still had an increase in naturally produced geneticaly sound mixed bred fish.

BillH wrote 3 years ago

A couple of minutes ago I meant 21,000, not 90,000.

David Johnson wrote 3 years ago

Bill, the point is that there was only a very small amount of wild fish in that section of river but after the tribe supplemented the area with hatchery fish, they spawned in the wild and became wild fish.

Some may say, "Those aren't hatchery wild fish!" But they are by the same standard the Native Fish Society wants to protect the "wild" spring Chinook on the Sandy River. Those wild fish are also the result of hatchery fish spawning on their own.

drturl wrote 3 years ago

There's something to be said for removing dams. There could have been or still could be an alternative route for water flow to generate power without destroying naturally flowing rivers.

NW Fishing Adventures wrote 3 years ago

David, Thank you again for bringing up the important industry issues. The tribal fisheries effect all the anglers that fish the Columbia river. Why would anyone penalize success in increasing the returns of fish? The lack of funding will impact everyone. The value of hatchery program should be celebrated and more fish for the tribes and the sports industry is a good thing. Yes! We need less regulation and more funds not less for the fish that have been lost due to the Dams and the effects on the upper Columbia river runs of Salmon and Steelhead.

Finsalong wrote 3 years ago

Any update as to the results of their meeting, info is appreciated. I voice my opposition to the reduction of hatchery efforts.

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