Salmon Fisheries Management on the West Coast
Salmon fisheries in coastal bays and tributaries in Washington and Oregon are managed by the states and tribes. These include North of Falcon fisheries and fisheries for lower Columbia River Chinook salmon tules.
Salmon fisheries in coastal bays and tributaries in Washington and Oregon are managed by the states and tribes. In Washington, the fisheries are co-managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and four coastal tribes including the Hoh, Makah, and Quileute Tribes and the Quinault Nation. Each of the Tribes works with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to manage the fisheries in their home waters. The pre-season planning for these fisheries for Chinook and coho salmon occurs in the spring, in conjunction with the Pacific Fishery Management Council and North of Falcon processes. This close coordination allows for the consideration of catches that will occur in ocean and in-river fisheries. This is necessary to meet conservation objectives and ensures that allocation objectives for the state and tribal fisheries are met.
In Oregon, the fisheries are managed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife works through the Pacific Fishery Management Council to plan ocean fisheries that affect Chinook and coho salmon returning to the Oregon coast. At the same time, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife seeks to provide opportunity for recreational fisheries that occur in coastal bays and tributaries. Oregon coast coho salmon are listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Pacific Fishery Management Council's Salmon Fishery Management Plan provides a harvest management matrix that defines the allowable exploitation rate for wild Oregon coast coho salmon estimates of escapement and marine survival. The allowable harvest varies from year-to-year depending on estimates of escapement and marine survival. The matrix defines a total exploitation rate for each of the Oregon coastal populations and all ocean and in-river fisheries. Once the ocean fisheries are set, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife can manage the tributary fisheries to provide for recreational fisheries that may occur within the overall ESA-related limit.
- Salmon Fishery Management Plan
- Regulations: Pacific Fishery Management Council | State of Washington | North of Falcon | State of Oregon
North of Falcon
Folded into the Pacific Fishery Management Council's management process is a parallel public process referred to as North of Falcon. The North of Falcon process integrates management of ocean fisheries between Cape Falcon (on the north Oregon coast) and the Canadian border, including fisheries in the Columbia River, Puget Sound, and inland Washington coastal waters. Columbia River fisheries are a significant component of the North of Falcon process. Coordination and shaping of the ocean and freshwater fisheries occurs to assure that fish conservation objectives are met and there is reasonable sharing of the conservation burden between the fisheries and various user groups. In this public process, there are allocation agreements reached between Oregon and Washington ocean and freshwater commercial and recreational fisheries, as well as mandated allocation agreements between the states and treaty Indian tribes. To learn more, visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s North of Falcon page.
Lower Columbia River Chinook Salmon Tules
Lower Columbia River Chinook salmon have three life history types including a spring run, a fall timed component referred to as tule Chinook, and a late-fall timed component referred to as bright Chinook. From a harvest perspective, tule Chinook are the most problematic. There are large numbers of hatchery tules that are produced to mitigate for the effects of hydropower development. These hatchery fish contribute heavily to fisheries from Alaska to the northern Oregon coast, as well as the lower Columbia River. The wild tule populations are at greatest risk because of the collective effects of hydropower development, habitat degradation, hatcheries, and harvest. Since 1999, when Lower Columbia River Chinook salmon were listed under the Endangered Species Act, the harvest impacts to tule Chinook have been reduced from 80 percent to 37 percent.
In 2012, NOAA Fisheries approved a plan to manage the harvest of tule Chinook using an abundance-based harvest strategy. The science leading to this strategy developed over the years since the species’ listing. The documents below chronicle the evolution of reports and decisions leading to NOAA Fisheries’ most recent biological opinion supporting abundance based harvest management (see below) of tule Chinook.
NOAA Fisheries’ 2010 biological opinion provides a summary of the consultation history and the status of the science at that time. The opinion was informed by a life cycle model analysis conducted by the Northwest Fisheries Science Center and outlines tasks designed to answer key questions to inform management decisions. Tasks A through H, as outlined in the 2010 opinion, were addressed through a series of reports. Information from the on-going recovery planning process for the lower Columbia River further informed our consideration of the effects of harvest and the use of an abundance-based harvest regime.
In 2010, the Pacific Fishery Management Council formed the Tule Chinook Work Group to consider the option of abundance-based management. The Work Group provided a report to the Council in November 2011 that was subsequently used by the Council to develop a specific recommendation for abundance-based management to NOAA Fisheries. These events culminated in NOAA Fisheries’ approval of the Council’s recommendation and the completion of NOAA Fisheries’ new 2012 biological opinion that replaced its 2010 biological opinion.
Biological Opinions on the effects of Salmon Fisheries on Lower Columbia River Chinook
Abundance-based management establishes harvest levels based on the status of the fish affected by the fishery. The purpose is to provide more protection when the status of the fish is low and the conservation need greatest, and more harvest opportunity when abundance is high. This model provides a management framework that recognizes the inherent year-to-year variability of salmon stocks. Abundance-based management plans provide the basis for managing many fisheries. For example, ocean fisheries for Chinook salmon off Alaska and Canada are managed year-to-year under the Pacific Salmon Treaty using measures of the overall abundance of Chinook salmon in each fishery. Several species of salmon and steelhead listed under the Endangered Species Act also are managed using various forms of abundance-based management. These stocks include:
- Oregon Coast coho salmon
- Lower Columbia River coho salmon
- Lower Columbia tule Chinook salmon
- Upper Columbia River spring-run Chinook salmon
- Snake River spring-run Chinook salmon
- Snake River fall-run Chinook salmon
- Snake River steelhead