The Science

With each haul of salmon and steelhead, Wild Fish Conservancy’s experienced field staff gathers genetic samples and implants Passive¬†Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags. These important elements of the study will help WFC scientists estimate long-term post-release survival rates from the fish trap; crucial information required for commercial implementation of alternative commercial gear-types. Gathering and implanting nearly 4,000 genetic samples and tags over the course of the next month, WFC will track the survival of released fish as they pass various dams upstream equipped with PIT tag detectors. The science behind this groundbreaking project will help pave the way for sustainable fisheries in the Columbia and beyond…



  1. I’m reading Langdon Cook’s wonderful book “Upstream” in which he describes a process called “reef netting” as a selective means of targeting abundant species with a minimal by-catch of endangered species. Looking at the pictures, the fish trap on the Columbia looks a little like his description. Is this correct?

    1. John,

      In many ways, our modified pound net fish trap has been inspired by reef nets that are currently operating off Lummi Island, WA. A fantastic co-op, Lummi Island Wild, is leading the way in sustainable fisheries through use of this highly stock-selective technology. While the majority of our trap designs were based off historical fish trap blueprints and archived photographs (fish traps were operated in large numbers across the Pacific Northwest from the 1880s until the 1930s), the way in which our spiller compartment is lifted and gently guides fish into an adjacent live-well with free flowing river water is inspired by Lummi Island Wild’s modified reef net technology. This means of capturing salmonids in such a low-impact manner (with little to no air exposure, handling, entanglement, or physical injury) is essential to ensuring safe release of non-target species and reducing bycatch mortality in commercial fisheries. Great question!

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