Wednesday February 8, 2023

The Chronicle

The public is being asked to give their opinion on an environmental analysis focused on managing Eulachon in the Columbia River basin.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife drew up a draft management plan for Eulachon, also known as smelt, in the Washington and Oregon populations.

“Overall, this updated plan is not a drastic departure from current management strategies,” said Laura Heironimus, Columbia River smelt lead with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, in a news release last week. “The updated plan is meant to help us continue to put conservation first while still offering flexibility for strategic harvest when the population can support it.”

Commercial and recreational smelt fisheries once thrived along the Lower Columbia River and its tributaries, WDFW said in the news release. The Columbia River mainstem averaged anywhere from 200,000 to 1 million pounds of fish every year.

The Cowlitz River before 2010 accounted for the largest returns when it came to smelt, according to the Washington and Oregon Eulachon Management Plan. Smelt returns from the Cowlitz River alone could reach 2 million to 3.7 million pounds of fish on any given year between 1938 and 2010.

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