Bonneville Reservoir White Sturgeon Tagging Project
Closing Date: November 14, 2023
Commercial Fisher Contract Announcement 2023-2024
This request is for tribal fishers who wish to participate in white sturgeon tagging in Bonneville Reservoir during the winter of 2023-2024. The Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission will contract with up to three (3) tribal fishers and their crews to catch, tag, and release white sturgeon in Bonneville Reservoir beginning in late November/early December 2023.
Since the mid-1990s, tribal fishers have worked with Yakama Nation (YN) fisheries technicians and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC) to capture and tag white sturgeon each winter in Zone 6. These efforts to aid the co-management annual population estimates of white sturgeon and the associated fisheries in a different reservoir each year. The tagged sturgeons maybe recaptured the following summer (2023) by Zone 6 co-management field teams that include YN fisheries technicians, and staff from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Each Contractor will be assigned a YN fisheries technician who will monitor the safe capture, handling, tagging and release of sturgeon, while recording the data from these efforts. To maintain data quality; technicians are only for data collection and project oversight only, not to assist with fishing operations. Additionally, because technicians have government issued vehicles, they are not permitted to transport contractors and their crew or tow their boats. Contractors will coordinate with CRITFC and YN staff on daily operations. The project will shut down when the tagging goal is reached and/or project funds are exhausted. The goal this year is to safely catch and tag approximately 3,000 white sturgeons in Bonneville Reservoir by the end of January 2024.
To prevent conflicts of interest and biased data, Contractors cannot participate in winter commercial fisheries (i.e. setline or gillnet seasons) while under contract on this project. Generally, the tagging effort extend into the winter setline season (i.e., January 2024), and is completed by the winter gillnet season (i.e., begins in February 2024). All closed areas and sanctuaries observed during commercial seasons will be in effect for this tagging operation.
Contractors and their crews will provide their own boats and fishing gear in this effort. In addition, housing, transportation, fuel, fishing supplies, etc. are also the responsibility of the contractors and their crews.
- Bonneville Reservoir is the location for this winter’s contract effort and is divided into approximately 5 sections; each one approximately 7-10 miles long. Contractors will likely fish each section together and will move at the discretion of the Project Manager.
- A section will be maybe fished for several days in a row prior to moving to a new section, however it may be necessary to move more often depending on catch rates .
- Reservoir specific maps will be provided by CRITFC to identify the section boundaries and set locations.
- Contractors will generally work a Monday through Friday schedule, setting and pulling gear daily. All gear will be removed from the water at the end of each work week. Occasionally, it may be necessary to work seven days a week in the event of delays due to poor weather.
- Contractors should start at first light and complete daily operations before nightfall, there will be no setting or pulling gear after sunset.
- Nets must be marked on both ends with the contract fisher’s tribal ID number.
- Buoys will be provided by CRITFC marked with “CRITFC” and the CRITFC phone number.
- Buoys mark the net’s location and communicate to law enforcement and members of the public that the net is part of an approved research project and must not be disturbed.
- To maximize catch of sublegal and legal sized sturgeon, a minimum of 8” un-stretched mesh, will be required on all nets, unless otherwise approved by the CRITFC project leader. Nets will be inspected.
- Each fisher must have at should have 15 nets for the project, as nets can be damaged or lost during the tagging effort. Nets must not be longer than those legal for Zone 6 commercial seasons.
- The number of nets fished varies with catch and conditions, generally, no more than 10 nets are fished daily; although low catch rates may require greater than 10 nets to be fished per day, and very high catch rates will only require a few nets to maximize distribution of marked sturgeon. This will be determined by the CRITFC Project Leader, with input from the contractors and YN technicians.
- Contractors need to consider net locations in relation to the nets of other contractors. Recently captured and released sturgeon can drift downstream and may be recaptured in another contractor’s net.
- Recaptures from this tagging effort, as evident by the fresh scute scar (i.e., White not grey), will not be eligible for compensation. (See Compensation section below).
- Research boat signs will be provided to each contractor by CRITFC. Like the buoys that identify nets as research tools’, these signs identify boats as research boats.
- Signage must be present on both sides of the vessel all times while on the water. Extra signs must be always available on board to ensure compliance in the event a sign is lost.
- All sturgeon captured during the contracted work must be released, this includes sturgeon mortalities.
- There is the possibility that this research may capture alive unique invasive species (such as northern pike, grass carp, striped bass, etc.). In the event this occurs, YN technicians will retain the unique species for CRITFC management (Blaine Parker) for further study. A handout of these unique species will be made available to all contractors prior to the start of tagging operations. This is the only exception to the following statement.
- All other fish species, alive or dead must be returned to the river, no exceptions.
- Each sturgeon tagged, released alive, recorded on project data sheets, and verified at the CRITFC Portland, OR office, will be compensated at $25.00.
- Contractors will be paid $300.00 per operational (setting or pulling gear) day. The $300.00 daily operational compensation will be forfeited if the contractor is unable to staff a full crew (4 persons) prior launching that day unless prior arrangements have been made with the CRITFC Project Leader.
- Payments will be issued approximately one week after the work has been conducted.
- Payment will be made via Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) to the contractor’s banking account. No paper checks will be issued.
- Note: Recaptured sturgeon from Bonneville Reservoir 2023-2024 sampling period (as evidenced by the fresh condition of the scute scar) will not be eligible for payment, although they must be recorded on the data sheet.
Desired Qualifications and Equipment
- Tribal fishers who have extensive knowledge of sturgeon locations and habitat in Bonneville Reservoir.
- Tribal fishers with prior experience in this tagging program.
- Bow-Picker boats and/or boats with net reels and enclosed cabins are very useful and efficient in the rough and windy conditions that are often encountered on this project.
Marine Liability Insurance
- All applicants must retain a marine liability insurance policy and submit a current “Certificate of Liability Insurance” as part of their application package. The policy shall carry a minimum of $1,000,000 (1 million) dollars of liability coverage on the policy.
- In addition, the policy must name the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission as additionally insured. CRITFC cannot consider any application without proof of current insurance coverage.
- Contact Blaine Parker ASAP if you require help in finding an insurance vendor.
- Safety is the priority!
- A life jacket, float coat, survival suit or other Coast Guard approved floatation clothing will be required safety equipment for this project. All contractors, crew, and YN technicians will wear safety equipment all times while on the water. NO EXCEPTIONS.
- This project is funded with Federal dollars and contractors must comply with Federal laws regarding the use of illicit substances, including marijuana. Contractors and crews shall not work while impaired or in violation of any instructions or warnings while taking prescribed medications. Consuming or being under the influence of alcohol during work is not permitted. Violation of this clause could result in the immediate termination of the contract.
- Contractors for this project are independent contractors, and are expected to insure themselves, their crew, and their property. Injuries and/or property losses incurred during the contract are the responsibility of the contractor, not the CRITFC. At no time will the CRITFC reimburse a Contractor or crew member for any loss incurred during the project.
- Selected applicants will sign a binding contract with the CRITFC. Prior to the contract signing, CRITFC will inspect the boats, required equipment, and fishing gear of each potential contractor.
- Dependent upon inspection, prospective contractors may be required to make specific repairs or alterations, purchase safety equipment, repair worn or broken parts, etc. before the contract can be signed.
- Contractors must have a minimum crew of 3 people and themself, for a total crew of four (4). Boat must have sufficient room for up to 5 persons (YN tech makes 5), fishing gear, live fish, and data collection equipment.
- Contractor and crew must be mentally and physically able to work each day upon arrival at the boat ramp.
- If a crew member or the contractor is not mentally or physically able to work that day, and the crew size is reduced to less than 4 individuals, then the contractor will forfeit that day’s boat lease fee (see Compensation in previous section).
- Please notify the CRITFC Project Leader if there is a request for an additional passenger during project hours.
- Tribal, state, federal fisheries staff or law enforcement may request to view project operations onboard the vessel. All requests from interested parties should be directed to the CRITFC Project Leader who will in turn discuss the request with the contractor(s) and YN staff.
- Contractors are responsible regarding the use and/or presence of illegal/banned substances during the period of this contract for themselves as well as their crew. Failure to abide by this requirement may result in immediate termination of the contract.
- Contractors are expected to use their discretion during poor weather and water conditions to minimize property loss, personal injury, and reduced effectiveness.
- If the contractor or YN technician has a safety concern, launching will not occur that day until the issue is resolved with the CRITFC project leader.
- Contractors and crews can expect physically demanding and adverse working conditions, with some non-fishing days due to hazardous water and weather conditions.
- Duties include setting and retrieving gillnets and setlines, marking, and tagging fish, collecting length and other biological data and ensure that these data are relayed to the YN technicians in a timely and efficient manner, and maintaining routine contact with CRITFC staff as necessary.
- Contractor must have sufficient resources (i.e., extra boat(s), nets, crew, safety gear, etc.) to fish entire contract period without significant delays (> 24 hours). A second similarly equipped boat is highly recommended.
- Contractor will be required to provide a list of crew members with the CRITFC Project Leader.
- Contractor and crew must provide and arrange their own transportation to and from the project sites.
- The contractor must also be the owner (co-owner) of the boat(s) used during the project (copy of title will be sufficient proof of ownership), unless otherwise arranged with CRITFC staff.
- Contractors must have extensive experience in set net fishing for white sturgeon in Zone 6 reservoirs.
- Sturgeon must be immediately processed after they are removed from the net. Sturgeon must not be left on the boat deck in the open air prior to processing. A tote with clean water is required if the contractor wants to remove extra fish ahead of processing.
- High level of responsibility, reliability, and motivation.
- Flexibility: as work site and weather conditions will vary greatly during the contract period.
Required Equipment List
- Cell phone
- Spare bilge pump (pre-tested, fitted for easy and quick replacement)
- Toolbox with appropriate tools, electrical tape, wiring, fuses as needed
- Spare parts (prop, spark plugs, appropriate tools)
- First Aid Kit
- Boat hook (6’ long handle or longer)
- Plug in Spotlight
- Spare 5 gallons of fuel (treated with Sta-Bil), oil, transmission, hydraulic fluids as needed
- Extra gloves & raingear
- Net repair equipment
- Anchor and 100’ of rope
- Research signage (provided by CRITFC)
- Throw rope
- Boat drain plug
- Extra life jackets
- White masthead or stern light (visible from 2 miles) *
- Combination or separate red and green navigational lights (1 mile visibility) *
- A Type I lifejacket for everyone on board*
- Two (2) type B-1 fire extinguishers (for flammable liquids, i.e. oil or gasoline) *
- Several long-lasting road flares for signaling help*
- 2-3 serviceable oars for rowing if necessary*
*Required United States Coast Guard items for boats under 40’ in length
CRITFC Motor Vehicle Policy
Fishers who meet or exceed the required qualifications, have the necessary equipment (boat(s), nets, etc.) and have obtained able bodied crew (all prior to applying), are encouraged to complete the accompanying application form and submit by the specified date.
Application forms also available from:
- TERO, Yakama Indian Nation, Toppenish, WA
- TERO, Nez Perce Tribe, Lapwai, ID
- TERO, Umatilla Indian Reservation, Mission, OR
- Office of Personnel, Warm Springs Indian Reservation, Warm Springs, OR
- Mid-Columbia River Council, Celilo, OR
- Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission Portland office
- Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Enforcement Office in Hood River
Applications must be received (not postmarked) at the close of business (5:00 pm) November 14, 2023, at the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. Faxed, mailed, and emailed copies will be accepted.
Send completed application form to:
Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission
Attn: Blaine Parker
700 NE Multnomah Street, Suite 1200
Portland, OR 97232
PH (503) 238-0667
FAX (503) 235-4228
Applications will be evaluated, and potential contractors will be notified by phone, text or email. Potential contractors will be asked to attend a contract and technical information meeting prior to beginning operations (generally the morning that work begins). Pre-contract boat and net inspections will also occur the morning work begins but may also occur prior to contract signing to allow for any necessary compliance issues. Applicants not selected will also be notified by phone or mail to determine interest in being placed upon an alternate list if additional contractors are needed.
Preference will be given to qualified Indian applicants who provide proof of enrollment in a federally recognized Tribe. If qualified, priority will be given to the Commissioner’s four member Tribes (Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs, and Yakama). The CRITFC is an equal opportunity employer and determines the applicability of Indian preference and appointment to positions.
Online applications are preferred, however if circumstances prevent an applicant from completing an online application, click the button below to download a form than can be completed physically. Submission instructions are on the form.
CRITFC implements a tribal preference policy and encourages citizens and descendants of our member tribes (Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs and Yakama) and other federally recognized tribes to apply.
CRITFC is committed to building a culturally inclusive community and a work environment that respects and inspires every person. Members of historically marginalized groups including women, people of color, those with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, those who have served in the military, and members of other underrepresented communities are invited to apply.
CRITFC will consider non-citizen applicants who are authorized to work in the U.S. If not authorized to work in the U.S., CRITFC will provide reasonable support and accommodations to the candidate in obtaining U.S. work authorization. With the exception of certain employer required costs, CRITFC will not pay for costs related to applicant’s legal representation, filings for work authorization or immigration, or other costs related to obtaining work authorization.
*Please note: the term “Commission” as used in this description refers to CRITFC’s governing body. CRITFC is a tribal organization that is wholly owned and governed by the Nez Perce Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, The Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon, and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation. As a tribal organization, CRITFC is subject to a unique blend of policies and laws.