Characterization and Assessment of Economic Systems in the Interior Columbia Basin: Fisheries


Fluharty, D.L. 2000. Characterization and Assessment of Economic Systems in the Interior Columbia Basin: Fisheries. General Technical Report PNW-GTR-451, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, Oregon.


Economic value of commercial, recreational, and tribal fishing is one measure of the importance of fisheries in the interior Columbia River basin (the basin) but only part of the values associated with fish of that region. The basin historically has provided substantial intraregional anadromous stock fisheries and contributes to interregional fisheries along the entire west coast of the United States and Canada. Harvest management, construction of dams and irrigation facilities, changes in habitat, and other factors have led to significant declines in some stocks of fish, thereby diminishing their economic importance to the region. Resident fish like trout, sturgeon, sucker, lamprey, whitefish, and other species are harvested in tribal and recreational fisheries. With the exception of sturgeon, these species do not support significant commercial fisheries. Introduced species of many warm water recreational fish, like the walleye, have brought additional changes to the ecosystem of the basin and affect economic values of fishing.

Future economic and societal values of fisheries can be expected to increase because of major ongoing efforts to recover stocks of anadromous salmon; however, the magnitude and timing of recovery are uncertain. Increasing human populations in the basin along with steady or increased demand for recreational fishing will continue to raise the value of both native and introduced species. This will make food and recreational fisheries enhancement through artificial propagation more likely, but at the same time, raise the demand for protection of wild stocks and conservation-oriented management to produce low environmental impact and high-quality fisheries. Shifts in social preferences may bring demands for commercial and recreational allocation adjustments, which can greatly impact economic valuation of fisheries. Global climate change, intermittent drought, and inter decadal shifts in ocean conditions provide additional complexity and uncertainty that affect fish values.