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Fish & Wildlife | Ecotrope

Lacking sturgeon, Willamette fishery delayed

Bill Monroe reports on a joint decision by Oregon and Washington fish and wildlife officials to delay a popular catch-and-keep winter sturgeon season on the Willamette River that was due to open Jan. 1.

Officials are seeing fewer legal sized sturgeon in the Columbia River Basin for the second year in a row, and have cut back catch limits accordingly (the expected Willamette catch limit is 2,550 for 2011, down from 3,600 this year). The Willamette retention sturgeon fishery will remain closed until at least February, but catch-and-release fishing is open on both the Willamette and the Columbia.

Fish and wildlife biologists have noted a growing number of Steller sea lions are taking a bigger bite of the sturgeon population on the Columbia, and Oregon and Washington have requested to have the Stellers removed from the Endangered Species list. That would allow officials to haze them as they do the California sea lions, which have been lethally removed from below Bonneville Dam to protect listed salmon.

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