Yesterday marked the first day in three years that the States of Washington and Oregon allowed anyone to fish for Sturgeon on the Lower Columbia River. The states stopped Sturgeon fishing because the populations were dwindling and felt the species needed help in sustaining itself. The Sturgeon population now numbers more than 166,000 fish. 3,000 of those are available for fisherman to catch.
Sturgeon are a fish that grow extremely slowly. Scientists estimate that it takes 25 years to get to 6 feet in length. More challenging for the species is that it takes between 5 and 11 years to reach maturity and begin breeding. It is extremely challenging to restore a Sturgeon population when it becomes threatened or endangered.
The Pacific Northwest was one of the first areas in the world to really focus on sustainability. Washington and Oregon regularly close fisheries when numbers of fish are diminished. They also reduce the number of fish that are allowed to be caught. This year’s Sturgeon season will target only 3.8% of the population, down from 14.5% in previous years. The length of fish that can be kept has been narrowed to a range of 44 to 50 inches, down from 38 to 50.
The two states that share the Columbia River carefully manage the fish stock. Consumers can feel confident that any fish they buy from the Pacific Northwest will be from a healthy, sustainable population that we can all continue to enjoy for the coming decades.