Columbia River pound net policies on WDFW commission agenda


The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will discuss and act on policy proposals for pound nets in the Columbia River when it meets April 7-9.

The commission is also expected to make decisions on hunting seasons, land transaction, Chelan River rule making, and implementation of the commission's Anadromous Salmon and Steelhead Hatchery Policy.

The Fish Committee will meet Thursday to discuss and hear updates on pound nets, continued development of a pinto abalone recovery plan, and implementation of the hatchery policy.

On Saturday, staff will brief commissioners on the continued study and development of commercial pound nets on the lower Columbia and also present WDFW's annual wolf report.

The department is evaluating pound nets as a possible addition to the types of commercial fishing gear used on the Columbia. The nets are held in place by pilings and use a wall of netting to guide migrating fish into a chamber where they can be checked for origin and released or retained. They were outlawed in the 1930's but are being considered for use again because of the potential for targeting specific runs and for separating hatchery and natural spawning fish with the least amount of harm to the fish.

One pound net has been in operation for several years above Cathlamet, and a second one had its initial season last year in the Clifton Channel in Oregon.

Based on catch and release analysis from previous seasons, WDFW staff feel the nets have poor potential during the spring salmon run, fair potential in summer runs, and good potential for the fall coho run.

One factor that hasn't been analyzed, staff said, is the potential for seals and sea lions to become habituated to the facilities.

Staff are requesting authorization and funding for further research in 2023.

Members of the public are invited to share their perspective and participate in WDFW public feedback opportunities regardless of race, color, sex, age, national origin, language proficiency, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, veteran status, or basis of disability. Members of the public interested in providing verbal public comment can pre-register on WDFW’s website.

All of these meetings will be conducted online and be available to the public to watch or listen via webinar or conference call. For more information on how to comment and to review agendas, visit WDFW’s website. The meetings will also be recorded and posted online so people can watch afterwards at their convenience.


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