Social distancing, stay-home orders, and other public-safety responses to the COVID-19 pandemic are causing a mix of reactions to fish and wildlife projects in the Columbia River Basin, from no impact, to delays, to cancellation, state and federal agencies and tribes have reported.
Spring usually is the beginning of the busy field season, when biologists, researchers, and technicians get busy outside on projects to improve habitat for fish and wildlife, mark and release hatchery fish, and monitor fish runs. It’s also the time of year when sport and commercial fishing picks up in the Columbia River and its tributaries.
But not this year. 2020 is different.
The Council’s Fish and Wildlife Division staff plans to report at future Council meetings on the impacts, if any, to implementation of the Council’s Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program. Here are some of the agency-by-agency decisions:
- Oregon and Washington closed spring commercial and sport salmon fishing in the Columbia River. Here is Oregon’s press release, and Washington’s.
- In Washington, the Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Fishery is delayed until the opening of recreational fisheries in Washington and Oregon to non-resident anglers. Fish surveys and monitoring including spawning surveys, fishery sampling, and research has been curtailed. Fish hatcheries continue to operate, but are closed to the public. Field work that is not time-critical has been delayed. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife COVID-19 site: https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/erule.jsp?id=2490
- In Oregon, all hunting and recreational fishing, crabbing, and clamming seasons remain open but are limited to Oregon residents only. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife COVID-19 site: https://myodfw.com/COVID-19
- Idaho has not closed hunting and fishing but some nonresident licenses, permits, and tags sales were temporarily suspended by the Fish and Game Commission this month. Idaho Department of Fish and Game COVID-19 site: https://idfg.idaho.gov/covid19
- In Montana, fishing access sites, state parks, and wildlife management areas remain open, but fishing piers, playgrounds, and group-use facilities are closed to the public. Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks COVID-19 site: http://fwp.mt.gov/news/newsReleases/covid19/nr_0020.html
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District: https://www.nwp.usace.army.mil/Media/News/Article/2136443/agencies-encourage-outdoor-enthusiasts-to-do-the-right-thing/
- NOAA Fisheries: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/noaa-fisheries-coronavirus-covid-19-update