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ODFW News: F&W Com\'n guides 2004 Springers

For Immediate Release Friday, Jan. 9, 2004

Fish and Wildlife Commission gives guidance for 2004 Columbia River

SALEM - The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission Friday supported splitting the allowable impacts to wild fish during this year's Columbia River spring chinook fisheries 40-50 percent to the commercial fishery and 50-60 percent to the sport fishery.

Decisions on the 2004 Columbia spring chinook sport and commercial fisheries will be made Feb. 5 in Oregon City by the states of Oregon and Washington meeting as the Columbia River Compact. The first harvest is expected to begin later in February.

Biologists estimate the policy guidance could result in a total mainstem harvest of about 50,000 spring chinook, split for sport anglers
and the commercial fishing industry. Biologists also estimate that 454,000 hatchery-bred spring chinook will enter the Columbia River this
year and be available for harvest in the mainstem Columbia and tributaries. Of those, 96,300 hatchery spring chinook are estimated to
be destined for the Willamette River.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission is the policymaking body for fish and wildlife issues in the state. The seven-member panel meets monthly.

The Commission also supported a pilot regulation prohibiting sport anglers from removing wild chinook and steelhead from the water in the
Columbia River between Tongue Point and McNary Dam. The goal of the potential new rule is to reduce the unintended mortality associated with
handling and releasing fish.

Spring chinook provide tremendous economic benefit to both the commercial and sport-fishing industries because the meat is prized for
its flavor and it is the first fresh non-farmed salmon of the season to reach barbecues and specialty markets.

Columbia River spring chinook seasons are set to protect wild chinook listed under the federal Endangered Species Act while allowing harvest
on adipose fin-clipped hatchery chinook. Federal law limits the allowable impact to wild populations from unintended mortalities
associated with the non-Indian fisheries to 2.0 percent of the total wild run.
 
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