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Pound Net Update: What's Old is New Again

Pound Net 1In December of 2015, non-creosoted fir pilings were driven into white-capped waters of the Columbia River to provide the foundation to Washington State’s first pound net in over eighty years. Now, after months of designing, cutting, welding, and assembling a custom pontoon raft and crucial pieces of the pound net framework here in Duvall, WA, WFC has headed back down to Cathlamet, WA on the Columbia River to continue the construction of the pound net.

This pound net is a stationary fish trap that allows fishers to selectively harvest. Historically, fish traps were notorious for the decimation of the Columbia’s once robust salmon runs. Resurrected from the issuance of a statewide ban in 1936, WFC’s newly designed pound net may prove to be an essential step toward increasing survival of non-targeted wild fish in commercial fisheries, reducing interbreeding of hatchery and wild salmonids, and improving escapement of threatened and endangered fishes to natal spawning grounds.

WFC has been working cooperatively on the pound net with local commercial fisherman Blair Peterson. His knowledge and expertise have been invaluable, and he has been involved in every stage of the process.  This project is the realization of a life-long pursuit to build and fish a newly designed pound net in roughly the same location of a net that was fished by his grandfather approximately 90 years ago.

In the coming weeks, the pound net will be finalized in preparation for the fall 2016 test season. WFC will collect data this fall, with assistance from WDFW, to help evaluate the effectiveness of the tool at catching fish and allowing non-target fish to be released unharmed. If the gear proves effective in increasing survival of released fishes relative to gillnets, seines, and other commercial fishing methods, pound nets may once again become a common sight along the banks of the Columbia. This time, however, they will be utilized in a more responsible manner, providing economic gain for local fishing communities AND as a conservation tool for wild salmon and steelhead.

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