Low coho returns may hamper salmon fisheries

COLUMBIA RIVER — Another decent return of hatchery Chinook salmon to the Columbia River is forecast this year, but expected low returns of coho could put a damper on salmon fisheries in the river and along the coast.

Salmon fisheries will be constrained in several areas this year because of low returns of wild and hatchery coho, said John Long, salmon fisheries policy lead for WDFW.

About 380,000 Columbia River coho are projected to return this year, roughly half the number forecast to return in 2015. Only 242,000 coho actually returned last year to the Columbia, where some coho stocks are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

“We expect to see another down year for coho in 2016 and will likely have to restrict fishing for salmon in a variety of locations to protect wild coho stocks,” Long said.

This is certain to have adverse economic consequences for charter operators, bait and tackle stores and a host of other businesses that rely on robust coho seasons in late summer and early fall.

Washington counties all have single-digit joblessness

OLYMPIA — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told state newspaper publishers at a dinner in the Governor’s Mansion on Feb. 11 that he’s proud the jobless rate in all 39 counties is now below double digits.

In December — the latest month for which data is publicly available from the Employment Security Department — unemployment remained at 11.2 percent in Ferry County and 10.2 percent in Yakima County. In Pacific County, the December jobless rate was 9.5 percent.

Due to delays relating to the holidays, official January jobs numbers for counties won’t be available until March 15. Pacific County’s jobless rate is expected to dip thanks to the resumption of clam digging and the start of Dungeness crab harvests.

Oregon employment back at pre-bust levels

SALEM — Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.1 percent in January, from 5.5 percent in December 2015. The last time Oregon’s unemployment rate was this low was in June 2007, when the rate was also 5.1 percent. A year ago, in January 2015,

Oregon’s unemployment rate was 5.9 percent.

“Oregon’s labor market is as good as it was during previous expansions,” said Nick Beleiciks, Oregon’s state employment economist. “The unemployment rate is now lower than it was in most of the mid-2000s and nearly as low as in the mid-1990s. Oregon is adding jobs at a faster rate than during the mid 2000s, and the number of jobs added over the last year is on par with growth during the mid-1990s.”

AgForestry invites leadership program applicants

SPOKANE — The Washington Agriculture and Forestry Education Foundation (AgForestry) is seeking leadership program candidates.

The AgForestry Leadership Program “equips leaders with the skills and network they need to increase awareness and demand for agricultural commodities, drive industry growth, and economic vitality.”

Over the course of 18 months, 12 three-day seminars are presented across Washington state. The program includes a seven-day seminar in Washington, D.C., and a two-week seminar in a selected foreign country. The value of each fellowship seat is $21,000, of which $15,000 is paid for by the foundation’s investors. Each participant or participant’s employer is responsible for the remaining $6,000 ($3,000 per year) with payment schedules available.

Deadline for applications is April 30. Go to agforestry.org for an application or nomination form. Phone 509-926-9113 or email melisa@agforestry.org.

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