Commercial salmon fishing with purse seines and beach seines — for profit not just testing — is coming to the lower Columbia River in the fall of 2014.
Washington and Oregon plan to allow a limited number of seines in 2014, 2015 and 2016, transitioning to the phase-out of gillnets from the main stem Columbia in 2017.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife started the official process leading to commercial seining last week when it convened a meeting of an Emerging Fishery Advisory Board.
Washington law specifically requires a five-member advisory group to work with the agency in developing the details of new commercial fisheries.
Reforms jump-started by Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber in mid-2012 and completed by the Washington and Oregon fish and wildlife commissions this year are bringing the most sweeping overhaul of lower Columbia River fisheries in 80 years.
The reforms allocate more chinook salmon to sportsmen in the main Columbia and restrict gillnetting to off-channel sites like Youngs Bay near Astoria or Deep River in Washington.
The states are enhancing the off-channel sites for gillnetting, with Washington attempting to develop a new site in the Cathlamet Channel between Puget Island and the mainland.
The reforms also require live-capture commercial fishing methods in the main Columbia — such as purse seines and beach seines — designed to harvest abundant hatchery stocks and release wild fish.
The seines have been tested under contract to the states for the past couple of years.
"The whole thing is coming,'' said Ron Roler, Columbia River policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. "We just need to plan for it make it the best we can.''