States delay decision on smelt fishing resumption

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Washington and Oregon are expected next week to adopt limited sport and commercial smelt fishing seasons for the lower Columbia River.

The Columbia River Compact was scheduled to set smelt seasons in Vancouver on Wednesday, but delayed until probably Wednesday or Thursday of next week.

Guy Norman, regional director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said discussions with the National Marine Fisheries Service on resuming smelt fishing are not complete.

Smelt are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, yet in 2013 there was a huge run that included not only the lower Columbia, but Cowlitz and Sandy rivers, too.

Norman said smelt seasons would be structured to collect information on the strength of the run and to mesh with long-standing data bases.

Sport and commercial smelt fishing has been closed for three years.