Talks resume Thursday in Seaside on Columbia fisheries restructuring

By Allen Thomas, Columbian outdoors reporter

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SEASIDE, Ore. — The Columbia River Fisheries Management Reform Workgroup will have its final meeting Thursday at the Best Western Ocean View Resort, 414 North Prom.

The workgroup includes three members from both the Washington and Oregon fish and wildlife commissions. The meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber asked the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in August to restructure salmon and sturgeon fisheries, including phasing out the use of gillnets in the mainstem lower Columbia River by 2016.

Washington fishery managers have entered into a joint process with their Oregon counterparts to develop potential alternatives for managing salmon and sturgeon fisheries in the lower Columbia.

The six commissioners, along with several sport and commercial fishing advisers, met in September in Olympia and October in Portland to develop a plan to boost salmon production in off-channel areas, then relocate the gillnet fishery to those spots.

The proposal is complicated and far from a done deal. The Columbia River treaty tribes have written letters to the states about how the changes might affect Indian fisheries upstream of Bonneville Dam.

The workgroup will listen to public comment late in the morning on Thursday.

Oregon's Fish ad Wildlife Commission will make its final decision on the proposed alternatives on Dec. 7 in Portland.

Washington's Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to make its decision on Dec. 14-15 in Olympia.