State salmon policy set

The Washington Fish and Wildlife commission on Friday approved a new management policy for Columbia River spring chinook salmon that's intended to promote conservation of wild fish while providing stability for sport and commercial fisheries.

The new five-year policy is consistent with catch-sharing provisions recommended by a joint subcommittee of the Washington and Oregon fish and wildlife commissions, officials said.

And it also provides some additional early-season commercial fishing opportunities sought by the Oregon commission.

The recommendations include:

-- A conservation buffer to maintain a low risk of exceeding impact limits on wild salmon listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

-- A high probability of an uninterrupted 45-day sport-fishing season on the lower Columbia River in March and April.

-- A stable commercial fishery in off-channel "select areas" such as Deep River in Washington and Youngs Bay in Oregon.

-- Commercial fishing opportunities in the mainstem Columbia River in March and April.

-- Sport and commercial fishing opportunities in May if the run is large enough.

Because the upriver spring chinook run includes wild fish listed for protection under the species act, the fishery is managed under rules that limit mortality rates for wild fish from .05 percent to 2.7 percent of the run.