FY 2001 High Priority proposal 23013

Additional documents

23013 Narrative Narrative

Section 1. Administrative

Proposal titleLocate, Mark, and Removal of Lost "Ghost" Fishing Nets in Selected Columbia River Reservoirs: A Feasibility Study
Proposal ID23013
OrganizationColumbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC)
Proposal contact person or principal investigator
NameBlaine L. Parker
Mailing address729 NE Oregon Street, Suite 200 Portland, OR 97232
Phone / email5032380667 / parb@critfc.org
Manager authorizing this projectMike Matylewich
Review cycleFY 2001 High Priority
Province / SubbasinColumbia Gorge /
Short descriptionEvery fishing season, gillnets used by treaty Indian commercial fishers are sometimes lost and unrecoverable. The number present in Zone 6 is unknown, but is likely in the hundreds, all with the potential to catch listed salmon species.
Target specieschinook salmon, steelhead, sockeye and white sturgeon
Project location
45.72 -121.53 Columbia River Reservoirs in Columbia Gorge Province
Reasonable and Prudent Alternatives (RPAs)



Relevant RPAs based on NMFS/BPA review:

Reviewing agencyAction #BiOp AgencyDescription

Section 2. Past accomplishments


Section 3. Relationships to other projects

Project IDTitleDescription

Section 4. Budget for Planning and Design phase

Task-based budget
ObjectiveTaskDuration in FYsEstimated 2001 costSubcontractor
Outyear objectives-based budget
ObjectiveStarting FYEnding FYEstimated cost
Outyear budgets for Planning and Design phase

Section 5. Budget for Construction and Implementation phase

Task-based budget
ObjectiveTaskDuration in FYsEstimated 2001 costSubcontractor
Outyear objectives-based budget
ObjectiveStarting FYEnding FYEstimated cost
Outyear budgets for Construction and Implementation phase

Section 6. Budget for Operations and Maintenance phase

Task-based budget
ObjectiveTaskDuration in FYsEstimated 2001 costSubcontractor
Outyear objectives-based budget
ObjectiveStarting FYEnding FYEstimated cost
Outyear budgets for Operations and Maintenance phase

Section 7. Budget for Monitoring and Evaluation phase

Task-based budget
ObjectiveTaskDuration in FYsEstimated 2001 costSubcontractor
Outyear objectives-based budget
ObjectiveStarting FYEnding FYEstimated cost
Outyear budgets for Monitoring and Evaluation phase

Section 8. Estimated budget summary

Itemized budget
ItemNoteFY 2001 cost
Personnel FTE: 0.3 for Project Leader-$11,684 0.4 for Technician - $6,960 $18,644
Fringe Fringe on Project Leader is 31.5% Fringe on Temporary Technician 12.5% $4,550
Supplies Data sheets, raingear, specimen bags for mortalities and species identification, boat lease charges $9,500
Travel GSA Lease and mileage for light truck 18k mileage $4,420
Indirect 36.9% of Pers. F.B., Supplies, and Travel $13,695
Capital We anticipate use BPA equipment (Sonar gear) for work, but will factor in for present $26,300
Subcontractor Contract w/ Tribal Fisher for net recoveries $9,000
Note: The $26,300 in captial acquistions likely will be reduced to $0 with loan of BPA owned equip. $0
Total estimated budget
Total FY 2001 cost$86,109
Amount anticipated from previously committed BPA funds$0
Total FY 2001 budget request$86,109
FY 2001 forecast from 2000$0
% change from forecast0.0%
Cost sharing
OrganizationItem or service providedAmountCash or in-kind

Reviews and recommendations

This information was not provided on the original proposals, but was generated during the review process.

Feb 1, 2001


In sum, this is a good idea and is a very responsible action by the agency. There was some debate among the reviewers on whether this proposal met the criteria for one-time funding and on-the-ground benefits, because, if this project is successful, it could develop into an annual task. However, the proposal clearly meets many of the criteria and would likely be achievable. As the sponsors state, there is an inherent element of mainstem habitat improvement that goes with this proposal, although it appears to be fishing related. The proposal refers to new technology that should make it possible to locate these lost nets, leading to their removal. Because the location of this project is on the mainstem, where it affects all of the listed species that are located above Bonneville Dam, it is clearly a habitat-type problem. It has the potential to remove a substantial barrier to migration, and it is of relatively low cost (probably $60,000 if they don't have to purchase the sonar equipment, previously used in a BPA sponsored project and now idle).

The reviewers were surprised that there was no evidence of the scale of the problem presented, although experience suggests there might be a substantial number of lost nets. How many nets are reported lost each year, is this really a problem? Are there requirements to report lost nets? It may not require many to represent a significant problem, since the lost nets may fish at all times on all stocks that pass through the lower Columbia River fishing zones. In this regard they represent a block to migration in the same sense as a culvert might in a tributary stream.

The major technical concerns with the proposals are: what is the detectability of the nets, and the unknown feasibility of retrieving the nets.

HP "A"
Feb 1, 2001


This project addresses an unaccountable loss of adults between mainstem dams identified in the NMFS Biological Opinion under Action 118.
Feb 15, 2001


ISRP Comment: How many nets are reported lost each year? Is this really a problem?

Response: In Zone 6 (the Columbia River from Bonneville Dam to McNary Dam), tribal commercial and subsistence fisheries use both surface and bottom set gillnets to harvest anadromous salmonids, white sturgeon, walleye, carp, and shad during specific fishing seasons. These seasons are primarily in the late winter and early spring and in the late summer and early fall. During the course of these fisheries, gillnets can be lost for a variety of reasons. The most common problem is the accidental and sometimes intentional loss (i.e. vandalism) of marker floats that note the location of each net. Nets can also be snagged by industrial shipping and moved considerable distances from their original set location, making prompt retrieval difficult if not impossible.

From 1995-2000, the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fisheries Enforcement office in Hood River, Oregon recorded a total of 50 diver gillnets as missing or possibly stolen. These nets are still at large. Many nets are reported as missing, but are found later and recovered. There are no records regarding the numbers of fish in the nets at the time of recovery. Records prior to 1995 are incomplete and less detailed.

Equally interesting is the transition of using biodegradable fibers (i.e. cotton) for net webbing to the use of synthetic materials during the 1960's. The obvious concern is the long-term persistence of synthetics versus the biodegradability of natural fibers. In talking with local tribal fishers and net suppliers, it was noted that synthetic (e.g. nylon and monofilament) fiber gillnets have been used in Zone 6 since the late 1960's. Unlike linen or cotton fiber netting, synthetic material is long lasting, even out of the water (Johnson 1989). Given the long life of synthetic materials and the limited loss data from CRITFE, the potential is high for the presence and persistence of many gillnets at large in the Zone 6 management area. Using the data available, if we assume that over a 30-year period (i.e. 1970-2000) an average of 50 nets were lost every 6 years, an estimated 250 nets were lost over the 30 years. In reviewing the lost nets reported to CRITFE, the mean length of each lost net was calculated at 293 feet. If we multiply this mean length with the estimated 250 lost nets over 30 years, we could expect that approximately 13.9 miles of webbing to be present in the Columbia River within the Zone 6 management area.

Additional information was received in 1999, when a Yakama Nation fisheries technician noted the presence of lost nets during sturgeon tagging efforts in Bonneville Pool in 1999. The tagging crew near the mouth of the Klickitat River temporarily lost a gill net. Subsequent recovery efforts were successful at retrieving the lost net, but also yielded two additional nets. These nets, later recovered by CRITFE personnel contained substantial numbers of dead and decaying fish, although no information was collected regarding numbers or species. This illustrates the ongoing risk to listed Columbia Basin salmon species and also to white sturgeon and other resident fish species from the lost gillnets in management Zone 6. Lost nets are definitely a problem, but the magnitude of the problem is undetermined at the present time.

ISRP Comment: Are there requirements to report lost nets?

Response: No and Yes. Tribal fishers are not required to report lost fishing gear, but it is their best interest to do so. Since tribal fishers are required to label their gear with their name or enrollment number, identification is generally known. If they don't report the gear as missing, they could be cited if the gear was found after a seasonal closure or if it drifted into a sanctuary where fishing was prohibited. The reporting rate is not known. The CRITFE has kept records of lost and stolen gillnets since 1993. The analysis focused on just diver gillnets, but scaffold nets and floating gillnets are also lost during fishing activities. The average reported loss rate per year is 8 diver gillnets, with ranges of 6-11 diver gillnets per year. These numbers only represent the minimum number of nets lost, as some lost nets are unreported.

In addition to the previous two questions, ISRP reviewers also had two concerns regarding technical feasibility. These are as follows:

ISRP Comment: What is the detectability of the nets?

Response: It will vary greatly from easy to very difficult. Modern sonar equipment that will be used in the project is quite sophisticated and will be able to "identify" fairly small objects on the river bottom. Personnel at CRITFC are experienced with this equipment and have noted that objects as small as a sturgeon setline with baited hooks is clearly discernable on the river bottom. The setline line is a single 3/8" rope with baited hooks, much smaller and less complex than a gillnet with 4" corks, webbing, and a heavy lead line. Granted, the degree of difficulty will increase with the amount of debris in the mesh and how deeply it may be buried into the riverbed. Recently lost nets will likely be relatively easy to find, whereas the nets that have been at large for a long time maybe completely covered and not accessible to the sonar. The project sponsor intends to deploy a side-scanning sonar to help locate lost nets.

ISRP Comment: What is the feasibility of retrieving the nets?

Response: As with the previous concern, it will likely range from easy to very difficult. Nets that are recently lost and free of large objects such as trees or stumps should be relatively easy to snag and recover. Tribal fishers commonly retrieve recently lost nets with nothing more than a heavy rope and a homemade grappling hook. Nets that have been lost for some time will likely be laden with debris and quite heavy. Others may be wrapped around rocks, sunken trees and navigation markers and will be very difficult to remove. On the water recovery strategies will have to be fluid and adaptable to meet a variety of situations. The project sponsors plan on working with local fishers and law enforcement staff who have some experience with these recoveries, as well as learning some novel methods once the recover portion of the project has been implemented.


Johnson, S.W. 1989. Deposition, fate, and characteristics of derelict trawl web on an Alaskan beach. Marine Pollution Bulletin. Vol. 20, No. 4, pp. 164-168.

Feb 26, 2001


… some proposed projects, such as the Removal of Lost Ghost Nets (proposal number 23013), seem to be important enough that they should be considered for immediate implementation even though not specifically identified in the BiOp