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Commercial Smelt Fishing Starts Feb. 10th
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reports that commercial smelt fishing will be permitted for 8 days on the Columbia River, on Mondays and Thursdays, February 10th through March 6th, from 7am to 2pm.
After a three-year hiatus, smelt fishing is returning to the Columbia River and two of its tributaries. In a joint state hearing, the departments of fish and wildlife from Oregon and Washington approved very limited commercial and recreational smelt fisheries on the Columbia, Cowlitz and Sandy rivers for the first time since the fish was listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act in 2010. Collectively, these fisheries are expected to harvest less than 1 percent of adults returning to the Columbia this year.
Adult returns have shown significant improvement in recent years and the return in 2014 is expected to be strong. These fisheries will allow the states to obtain more current information about the smelt population and help managers better understand trends and variability in abundance. Though smelt are still listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act, NOAA Fisheries supports limited research-based fisheries in strong return years.