It shall be the policy of the department to maintain
healthy populations of forage fish species and individual
stocks of forage fish while assuring the integrity
of the ecosystem and habitat upon which marine resources
depend. If insufficient information exists or the
condition of the resource is poor, a conservative
approach to fisheries will be taken. Fishery management
plans will consider the role of forage fish in the
marine ecosystem and the need to supply sufficient
quantities of forage fish for ecosystem needs. A precautionary
approach to resource management shall be utilized.
The department shall consider the best scientific
Consistent with the general goals established by the
Commission for the Department, the following specific
goals will guide the management of the forage fish
resources of Washington.
Maintain healthy populations of forage fish in
Fisheries shall be permitted, as appropriate,
for sustainable resources.
Washington based fishing industries (fishing,
processing and marketing) shall receive consideration
of an opportunity to utilize harvestable forage
fish resources within state waters and the Exclusive
Management plans shall consider by-catch and wastage
and provide for estimation of the magnitude of each
and recommendations made for their reduction.
Increase public confidence in forage fish management.
All significant fisheries will have sufficient
monitoring to estimate catch and evaluate resource
condition and population trends.
Stock status summary of principal species of forage
fish shall be produced every two years.
Document and protect spawning habitat of forage
Implement the Wild Salmonid Policy as it relates
to forage fish and their habitats.
Following the direction given in the forage fish policy
and goals, the following plan of action will be implemented
by the Department.
Habitat Surveys and Protection
Forage fish spawning habitat surveys are a high priority
for forage fish management. Activities related to
spawning ground documentation will include:
conducting spawning habitat documentation surveys
in areas likely to face human caused alterations.
providing expert testimony in court cases or other
legal activities, maintaining and updating databases,
depending on funding.
providing limited surveys in case or urgent need,
completing a formal report which summarizes existing
information and making it available to the public
and interested officials.
Management of forage fish shall include provisions
for rapid change in abundance.
Forage fish shall be managed to avoid periods
of low abundance.
The achievement of maximum yield shall not be
a goal of forage fish management.
Consideration will be given to both recreational
and commercial fishing interests when stock conditions
The Department shall conduct a review and report
on potential forage fish by-catch in each significant
Stock assessments shall be based on direct measurement
of fish populations whenever possible.
The following plan of action shall be implemented
for individual forage fish species:
The Department will participate in interstate
planning and research efforts for coordinated management
of the west coast sardine resource.
The Department will investigate and, if feasible,
allow a new commercial experimental fishery for
sardine. This fishery would require coordinated
management and include special monitoring/review
for bycatch concerns. Any fishery is dependent on
action by the Pacific Fishery Management Council.
Annually review stock status, fishery results
and fishery regulations.
The Department will seek to increase its monitoring
of fisheries and resources to:
establish a biological database
estimate growth and mortality rates.
In the absence of better information, manage each
individual spawning ground as a unique stock.