CCA Working to Improve Willamette Spring Chinook Fisheries

We are pleased to report to our members that there has been no reduction in Spring Chinook hatchery planted smolts in the Willamette Basin since the new policies to reform the Columbia River went into effect.

CCA has lobbied and worked to retain Spring Chinook hatchery smolt production in the Willamette River and its tributaries, while still providing additional smolt production for the terminal fisheries.  The enhanced terminal fisheries were part of the plan to move non-selective gillnets off the Columbia River mainstem that is now in rule in both Oregon and Washington and made possible by the passage of Senate Bill 830 in Oregon last year. 

ODFW staff has recently provided documentation of the "backfilling" of production to provide the additional smolts needed for the Columbia River reforms, while NOT diminishing the plants to Willamette River tributaries.

CCA has worked with the Governor's office and ODFW to provide the benefits for sport fisheries that were promised in the plan originally proposed by Governor Kitzhaber to ODFW in August of 2012. 

Recreational anglers have paid forward to make these reforms work, with new fees and gear changes and it is great to report that Willamette River fisheries have been protected while the transition to a recreational priority and an end to gillnetting in the mainstem of the Columbia River moves forward.

There are natural fluctuations in hatchery output.  For instance the 2005 total for the Willamette Basin was 5.5 million smolts, the 2013 releases totaled 5.7 million.  Putting 2013 within 2.5% of the average of the last 8 years which is well within natural fluctuations.

Credit to ODFW for maximizing this production to benefit both sport and commercial fisheries, in the era of lawsuits attacking hatchery fish and budget challenges faced by all state agencies.  We continue our efforts to improve some of the policies recently adopted including the Young's Bay Exclusion Zone and removal of the barbless hook rule in the Willamette River for instance. 

CCA is also improving Spring Chinook fisheries with the second year of operation on the Molalla River brood pond facility championed by our Willamette Falls Chapter.

This demonstrates the need for CCA members and recreational anglers to stay engaged and involved to improve our fisheries as we move forward.  There will always be work to be done.  We can accomplish the changes our fisheries need when we work together.

CCA-OR, Government Relations Committee