he three-day Columbia River Estuary Conference, which delved into new scientific findings and their management implications, concluded Thursday in Astoria.

Held from Tuesday through Thursday, the conference covered new findings concerning research and monitoring efforts, along with the resulting implications for ecosystem restoration and recovery of species listed on the Endangered Species Act in the lower Columbia River and estuary.

The conference touched on a variety of topics, including the chum salmon recovery strategy in Oregon tributaries to the lower Columbia River, the design guidelines for the enhancement and creation of estuarine habitats in the middle reaches of the lower Columbia River, along with an overview of the Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership’s Habitat Restoration Prioritization Strategy design guidelines. Those guidelines cover the enhancement and creation of estuarine habitats in the middle reaches of the lower Columbia River.

In particular, the strategy identifies the most ecologically beneficial locations for restoration and describes the most appropriate types of restoration strategies for those locations. These restoration projects, the strategy states, will also be prioritized based on which ones provide the greatest benefit to the lower Columbia River and its resources.

Erik Robinson, a senior associate at the Pew Environment Group, attended the conference on its first day to discuss Pew’s Pacific Fish Conservation Campaign and hand out materials.

Pew’s campaign promotes new scientific findings that highlight the economic and scientific importance of forage fish.

Forage fish are small to medium-sized species that include anchovies, sardines and herring and provide a source of food to larger species. About one-third of the world’s catch is of forage fish species, which has contributed to the collapse of some forage fish populations and the decline of other fish species, according to a task force report published by The Lenfest Ocean Program last month.

The direct value of commercially caught forage fish is estimated to be $5.6 billion, while the supportive value of allowing the fish to become food sources for larger fish is $11.3 billion.

The Pew Environment Group is promoting better protection of forage fish species, and the conference provided a place to do that, Robinson said.

“What we’re saying is we need to bring these fish under a fishery management plan,” he said.

Robinson said the conference was an important opportunity to discuss issues that are necessary for estuary protection and restoration.

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