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Oregon, Washington close recreational river salmon and steelhead fisheries over virus concerns

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Oregon fishery managers closed recreational salmon and steelhead fisheries on the Columbia River on Thursday night to help limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The decision comes on the heels of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s announcement Wednesday that it was temporarily closing recreational fishing and shellfishing statewide.

Hammond Marina Buoy 10

Oregon and Washington state have restricted recreational fishing on the Columbia River over coronavirus concerns.

Washington and Oregon jointly manage fisheries on the Columbia River and have sought to have concurrent regulations, fishery managers said. Other fisheries in Oregon — as well as fishing for species other than salmon and steelhead on the Columbia River — remain unchanged.

The closure is expected to last until at least April 8 and does not carry any implications for other fisheries — commercial or recreational — yet.

State fishery managers are continually evaluating the situation, said Chris Kern, deputy fish division administrator for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

It is a new scenario to close down fisheries because of a pandemic, he said. “Closures are usually due to the condition of the fish stocks, whether we’ve met catch limits or some other metric.”

For now, he said the state is planning to conduct upcoming fisheries like the popular Buoy 10 recreational salmon fishery on the lower Columbia River as normal.

Under an executive order issued by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown earlier this week, anglers who do go out fishing must maintain at least 6 feet of distance from other people. Everyone has been told to minimize nonessential travel.

Most North Coast cities imposed limitations on hotel stays over the weekend, further restricting visitors coming to the coast.

Katie Frankowicz is a reporter for The Astorian. Contact her at 971-704-1723 or kfrankowicz@dailyastorian.com.

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