Columbia fisheries reform group to meet Thursday

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PORTLAND — The work group tasked with considering reforms to fisheries on the lower Columbia River, including the eventual removal of commercial gill nets from the mainstem, will meet beginning at 8:30 a.m. Thursday at the Airport Embassy Suites, Spruce Room, 7900 NE 82nd Ave.

The meeting will go until 4:30 p.m. It is open to the public and there will opportunity for public comment.

The Columbia River Fisheries Management Reform Workgroup includes commissioners from the Oregon and Washington fish and wildlife commissions, staff from departments, as well as advisers from various stakeholder groups.

It was created at the request of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber to consider changes to sport and commercial fisheries on the lower Columbia River.

The workgroup is to develop and present a plan to the Oregon and Washington commissions before the end of the year that will achieve several objectives outlined by Kitzhaber. These include:

• Prioritize selective recreational fisheries in the mainstem Columbia River and commercial fisheries in off-channel areas of the lower Columbia River.

• Phase out the use of commercial gillnets in the mainstem Columbia River and transition the use of gillnets to off-channel areas.

• Allocate a majority of available salmon to the sport anglers.

• Improve off-channel fisheries by increasing hatchery production in those areas and by enhancing area boundaries and/or locations.

• Continue development and use of alternative selective fishing gear for commercial mainstem fisheries, and implement these fisheries when recreational fishery objectives are met.