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Fish & Wildlife Commission
Meeting Feb. 8-9, 2013

2013 – 2014 Sportfishing Rule Proposals – Briefing and Public Hearing. Audio available.

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Recommended for Public Comment

Rule Change Recommendation Short Title
# 4. Statewide fishing closure for sixgill, sevengill and thresher sharks

 • Final Rule Actions
 • See comments

Rules Category

Type of Rule Change Proposal

Short Description
Close angling statewide for sixgill, sevengill and thresher sharks.

There is concern regarding the status of these species. Given their life history they are highly susceptible to overfishing.

Final Rule Actions

Staff Recommendation
Adopt as proposed.

Commission Action
Adopted as proposed.

Rule Modifications

Public Testimony

There were no comments.

Online Public Comments  (54 comments)

COATNEY, DON C  September 21, 2012
This should not happen, not many people fish for sharks in washington waters so why close it to the few that do? You can not retain a six gill or a seven gill in Washington state either. Is there any data that we are over fishing the thresher shark in Washington waters NO! This should not be allowed to pass period!
BERGERON, DAVID A  September 21, 2012
Thresher encounters are rare with sportsfishing methods. Is there significant data to support this recommendation?
GIRTZ, TODD   September 21, 2012
no need to close threshers there are very few caught each year
BARNUM, KELLY S  September 21, 2012
It is in my opinion that the commission is reacting to series of events that are lead by emotion and not true scientific data. First was an article written by a paper claiming that my actions are killing sharks, mis-quoting us and the researcher Greg Harris. The second event was the action of one citizen removing a large, alive sevengill shark from Grays Harbor by truck. These two events have led to a over reaction. There is substantial scientific data to support a catch and release only fishery. The NW Shark Preservation Society, which 7 Gill Outfitters is a strong supporter of, plans on submitting a proposal to help the commission understand the importance and viability of this fishery. In no way are opposed to a retention closure of the fishery, we just feel that a complete shutdown is an over reach at this time. It becomes very hard to understand the population size and well being of a species if no one is sampling that population.
CHAPMAN, JEREME   September 21, 2012
I really think that a closure is premature, (we) and the WDFW know very little if anything about these species, there is an opportunity to learn about these great animals with studies through responsible catch and release fishing. I know that human nature is that when we do not know about something we reject it, I am asking that instead we keep an open mind and continue with caution, learn about the species, there habits and habitat, so that we can better protect them in the future. Thank you for your time. Jereme Chapman
CELLI, TYLER   September 21, 2012
you have no idea how the populations are doing in wa, so your answer is to close it down? typical wdfw...
HUDGINS, JASON E  September 21, 2012
I would like to see some cold hard DATA that supports your wanting to close this entirely. To close a season on a species that you have done absolutely NO research on is ignorant to say the least. A catch and release only season would be the smartest course of action. This would allow time for you to conduct a study. I do not believe the small number of fisherman who actually target these fish are making an impact on their populations. It is possible that they could be overfished if every person targeting them was to keep their daily limit of 12 sharks per day, as set by you. Maybe a one shark per day would be more apropriate? The simple solution that would make everyone happy would be to lower or eliminate the daily limit, yet allow the sportsmen, who pay your rediculous salaries, to continue to fish for these fish. Do the right thing and lower the limit or leave it open for catch and release only and spend some time and money concentrating on fish and wildlife that need he
MEYER, CHRIS   September 22, 2012
The closing of angling for these sharks is an outrage and unjustified without further reserch. A catch and release program would be more fitting and fair for Washington anglers.
MEYER, CHRIS   September 22, 2012
The closing of angling for these sharks is an outrage and unjustified without further reserch. A catch and release program would be more fitting and fair for Washington anglers.
SHUPE, KENNETH M  September 22, 2012
this fishery should remain open to catch and release for sport fishermen
STEVENS, DENNY M  September 26, 2012
If the state has the budget for a tagging program that could give the state biologist valuable information on populations in given areas of the state. For the sportsman it would give them a chance to fish for a big game species and help out with conservation by tagging and releasing fish. If tagging is not in the budget include a space that can be filled out on the catch record card.
SCHWARTZ, TODD   October 02, 2012
I do not agree with closure of Thresher Sharks. I do agree with closure of 6 and 7 gill sharks. Threser sharks are migratory and in great numbers in WA Coastal waters. We have seen several sometimes more than one per day and have heard of many people seeing them throught the summer season. I have not heard of one single thresher being landed. Therefore this action is not needed or warranted.
PENEV, KAMEN   October 02, 2012
I oppose this proposal, as it concerns thresher sharks.
KNOBBS, KENNETH D  October 02, 2012
This rule change should only occur in the non-ocean marine areas if it is enacted.. There is no hard science to prove that there is any problem with stocks of thresher sharks in the ocean, much less any other species of sharks.
OWEN, THOMAS A  October 05, 2012
Why not at least have it catch and release to collect data? There are plenty out there...
TACHELL, JONATHAN T  October 08, 2012
I would like to see all of the mentioned species protected in washington waters.
MUHLHAUSER, BOB A  October 15, 2012
Leave season open for the 7gill shark The reson behind my thinking on this is I have been fishing for these for 4 years and there seems to be a large abundance of them. I catch them ranging from 3 1/2 ft to 11 ft and there is just as many strikes now as 4 years ago.I usually keep 5or 6 of the larger ones for personal use. Never have kept any of small ones. Just took grandson out this year for 1st time and he enjoyed it very much. I am teaching him the thrill of fishing without endangering any species . I represent the Grays Harbor Pogie Club (many members fish for them) and they strongly recommend leaving fishing open for the retention of the 7 gill shark
HARRIS, GREG   October 16, 2012
While I agree that shark fishing needs to be regulated, a complete closure is not the answer. Closing fishing only hurts the ability to gain data about the species. Instead of closing fishing, make the fishery catch and release only with gear restriction. Make reporting catch mandatory to gain a better understanding of population trends. Also require proper training in catch and release procedure to reduce post release mortality. The best way to build a spirit of stewardship is through interaction. A good combination of education and interaction will really help the species in the long run.
HUNTER, WILLIAM L  October 21, 2012
IHAVE BEEN FISHING FOR THESE SHARKS FOR MORE THAN FOUR YEARS, I have always found an abunduce of fish I know these fish migrate and are here during the summer months they are fun to catch and I only keep one or two over eight feet long for the year and release the rest. I feel you do know enough about these fish just to shut it down, you don't even know how many people fish for them, an how many are caugth and kept, these fish are all over the grays harbor bay and no matter where I go I can catch them. more info reguired before you think about ending this sport.
BARNUM, KELLY S  October 25, 2012
Type of rule change: Conservation Short Description: Make angling for all shark Species Catch and release only in Statewide waters. Explanation: Sharks are decreasing worldwide, but the sport of shark fishing is gaining traction worldwide also. We can compromise with anglers and sharks by making this a catch and release only fishery with minimum 10/0 circle hook gear restriction. Studies have shown, as you can see by the proposal the NWSPS sent to you, that sharks can handle the C&R experience and it actually allows angler to see first hand the importance of the sharks and their position in our waters, thus bringing a added excitement to the conservation of the species. Through education we can learn to protect this species in Wa waters, as a public figure in the shark fishing community I have done and will continue to do my part to educate people and protect the sevengill shark from destruction. Thanks and remember to always practice C&R shark fishing.
GREGORY, LARRY   October 29, 2012
What are you basing this on? We have never had over fishing of shark and six gill is a great game fish. I have a neighbor who fishes six gill and takes two a year. This is a great big sports fish. He shares it with the neighbors including us. We really have no big fish, fishing in this state and to take this away with no research or basis makes no sense.
YANAK, RICHARD   October 31, 2012
Does WDFW even have population estimates? Does WDFW even know how many anglers target these species or how many are retained? Knee jerk reaction managment seems ridiculous. Maybe we could spend less on shorebird surveys and find out whats out there.
KRUSE, JOHN   November 01, 2012
Please don't make a decision on this issue without the appropriate science to support it. If we don't know the status (in terms of population) of these sharks off the Washington coast I would recommend a catch and release fishery instead of a blanket closure. This would accomplish the same goal of preventing over-fishing while allowing anglers who choose to enjoy this sort of fishing to do so. Such a compromise would be a "win-win" solution.
GREENE, SARAH "GINGER"   November 01, 2012
Please give these sharks a better chance! Worldwide shark numbers are rapidly declining due to over fishing and shark finning both of which are very cruel.practices
GREENE, SARAH "GINGER" &  November 01, 2012
Please give these sharks a better chance! Worldwide shark numbers are rapidly declining due to over fishing and shark finning both of which are very cruel practices not to mention barbaric. Protection, education & research is key to saving these magnificent creatures. Given the fact that most shark take 10 years or longer to reach sexual maturity and their pups some take almost a year or longer before they are born-as many that are caught & killed yearly they will never be able to rebound and thrive. Do the right thing for the sharks, the environment and the oceans! Thanks!
DAVIS, STEVE G  November 03, 2012
I think catch and release only should be the first step taken while monitoring the population levels. This prevents over harvesting while maintaining the sport of shark fishing which is both great fun and also a revenue source.
WORKMAN, JIM   November 04, 2012
These fish should be treat just like Sturgeon fishing. Make this a Catch and Release ONLY fishery.
CAILLIER, MICHAEL J  November 05, 2012
Without strong scientific evidence this fishery should not be shut down. If any new rules should be implemented, then I would consider a catch and release fishery until scientific data can be collected and studied.
THOMAS, CHRISTOPHER M  November 06, 2012
WDFW should allow for catch and release, or catch and tag programs for large shark species (six gill, seven gill, thresher, blue, salmon, &great white). I agree that these sharks should not be harvested, but the dept. has an opportunity to allow for sport fishing of big game species in the state where currently sturgeon is the only big game fish in our waters. The practice of tag and release is performed in other states and has been very successful. It will generate more lisences and purchases of heavy tackle and gear, adding to the state sales tax revenue. The state could charge a $5.00 stamp for fishing for the big sharks. Training for professional guides and recreational fisherman for safe catch and tag techniques is simple and the data that could be collected on these sharks would be invaluable information to help perpetuate the species and test the health of the sound and ocean. More opportunities translates into more revenue for wdfw.
COATNEY, DON C  November 27, 2012
NO on rule change 4. There is no data that proves that we are over fishing any of these sharks why would you just want to close it down just because one group of people think that we shouldn't fish for them cause they are cute fish?
CARVER SR., RUSSELL L  November 29, 2012
Please pass rule change #4.We already have fishing opertunity with out impacting these sharks.
JENNINGS, MIKE   November 29, 2012
Make it catch and release ONLY, do not limit recreactional fishermen, by the spoils of poachers. Start enforcing...
MCDOWELL, BRIAN   November 30, 2012
I do not support #4. I have never seen people targeting these species is this really a problem? given the opportunity I would love to be able to catch a small thresher off the coast and they are out there every year. so far I have only seen big ones eating my albies before i get them to the boat.
BAYLEY, MARTIN   December 04, 2012
It appears there is no hard research data to support this proposal. Angling should be continued until the research supports such a proposal for temporary closure until sufficient numbers of shark return, if that is the finding. Thank you.
PETERSON, JOSEPH R  December 06, 2012
This proposal is way overboard there is no scientific data to back up the closure of fishing for these sharks they are not endangered. I would be happy to support a one fish limit on retention or a catch and release fishery but closing it is simply ridiculous. I have fished for seven gill sharks in Willapa bay a couple of times and there are numerous fish out there. We caught over 15 in one day and have it all on video if you would like to see that there is a tremendous population. Please continue to allow fishing for these awesome fish it can only help them through awareness. Make anglers buy a special endorsement like on the Columbia and use the money for research or put them on the punch card system as well. There are many ways to go about controlling the fishery but a total ban on fishing for them is the wrong answer for sure.
SCOTT, BRIAN   December 06, 2012
Please consider a catch and relise fishery for the 7gill shark
HOVREN, LONNIE J  December 06, 2012
i fell like the state should allow the catch and release for six gill, seven gill, and thresher shark their would be no harming the sharks. If the law stated only catch and release for these sharks fewer sharks will be killed during the season of shark fishing. Instead fisherman would have to release the sharks with no injury. Also i believe that release of these fish should be stated that the fish do not come out of the water, that to unhook these sharks should stay in water at all time and never to board a boat at anytime thus no harm to the sharks. thank you for reviewing my comment on this matter. sincerely lonnie hovren fisherman, and hunter of washington state
MCCOY, ROBERT   December 06, 2012
Is there any hard data to suggest an actual decline in these species? Is there actual evidence of these species being fished for, and taken by sport or commercial fisherman in the waters of the sound?
KRUSE, JOHN   December 06, 2012
I commented previously but don't know whether it was under this public comment period so....here goes: It is my understanding WDFW has very little idea what the status is of our seven gill, six gill and thresher shark populations. Instead of shutting down this fishery due to an absence of science, I would hope WDFW would take a common sense approach of allowing a catch and release fishery, getting data from anglers who participate in the fishery, and then making decisions about this fishery once more is known. Closing the fishery is a knee jerk reaction which takes away an opportunity for anglers, and provides no incentive for marine biologists to find out more about these sharks. I do think harvesting sharks is a poor idea until more is known to prevent overfishing but a catch and release fishery for these sharks should be easily sustainable and can be made more so through regulations mandating barbless hooks or other means. Thanks for the opportunity to comment.
KLEIN, JOHN B  December 06, 2012
Please don't close sportfishing for sixgill, sevengill or thresher sharks. A catch-and-release fishery provides a great sportfishing opportunity and would allow more data to be collected on each of these species. It would prevent overfishing and would continue to provide another fishery for our guides to target.
BARTLETT, AARON   December 06, 2012
I think that Washington would be making a big mistake if the choose to remove yet another species from the list of what Washington sportsmen can target. I do not think that going to a catch and release only is a viable answer either. What I do think would be appropriate would be a little more regulation of the season. Instead of doing away with the fishery all together or going to a C&R only, both of which do nothing to raise any revenue for the state, why not instituted an new punch card with a limited number of opportunities. Right now I believe that a standard fishing license allows a person to target these fish and in some if not all cases the DAILY catch limit is 12 sharks. I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone that would argue that 12 is an excessive number. My thoughts would be that for 2 to 3 years have a species specific punch card that is not included with the purchase of fresh or salt water licenses. Instead have it accompany a license much like an elk or deer tag
NELSON, BLAKE S  December 06, 2012
I think this proposal is probably sound. I fully agree for the closure for the sixgill shark due to the depths at which they normally reside and they're starting to grow in popularity as a Puget Sound megafauna. I also support the closure for the thresher shark due to its low fecundity and prized fin. The sevengill I don't have sufficient information on to have a solid opinion. I believe they have large litters. I know it has been targetted recently in Willipa Bay. The bay is very shallow, which is good, but I also assume those sharks are pregnant females. If there isn't data on mortality rates yet; or it's extremely low, as a recreational angler I'd favor a barbless hook catch and release season that occurs for maybe 30-45 days. Maybe around June or so, when the Willipa-area recreational fishing economy would be sluggish after hailbut but before salmon season. However, if angling is causing mortality or seriously harming unborn sharks due to stress I support th
WOLF, JEREMY   December 07, 2012
I feel that the best way to protect the Shark fishery in our great state is to mandate a catch and release season. This will allow the continued research and education done by great organizations like 7 gill outfitters fishing. It is men like throes who work for 7 fill outfitters who educate people on the importance of protecting our unique fisheries. If the state feels that more restrictions are necessary then a possible special license could be sold to catch and release shark in Washington. I personally hope that the shark fishery remains open so that I may enjoy the Shark season next year. Thank you for your consideration, SSG Jeremy Wolf
ERICKSON, KELLI   December 08, 2012
do not close it completely, regulate it and have it open for small windows. until the idiot from ocean park made a business out of it, nobody noticed. the locals have been fishing it for years without hurting the populations doing catch and release.
HICKS, TYLER :  December 11, 2012
I think a catch-and-release fishery is more appropriate than a total closure. I know of several people who fish for sharks in the Willapa Bay as part of catch-and-release recreational fishery.
WARM, WALLY A  January 13, 2013
what a bunch of crap. how many people really fish for them
HALE, RICHARD M  January 20, 2013
I'm ok with closing sixgill and sevengill as they are resident species in our bays estuaries and nearshore fisheries. Thresher sharks are a pelagic fish and migrate with the food sources, they are not commonly targeted or overfished due to their migratory nature by recreational fisherman. I do not support closure for thresher sharks.
MYERS, BILLY G  January 20, 2013
Why not allow catch and release? The few fishermen catching these fish would share information with WDFW helping us better mangage and learn about the species.
RICH, SAMANTHA   January 25, 2013
Please pass this closure.
GOFORTH, WILLIAM J  January 22, 2013
I would like to see catch and release only with barbless hooks.
TOBECK, ROBERT   January 28, 2013
No - This rule is unnecessary and should not pass. There is very little recreational pressure on these sharks to begin with and we should not be in the habit of restricting access when we do not have proof of a problem.
ELLIOTT, TOM J  January 28, 2013
sport fishing for these sharks should remain open. There is very little if any take of them now for soprt fishing. commerical take should be closed. I am afraid that if these fish are closed then their by catch will be used to close salmon and other fisheirs as the rock fish closures was attemped to be used.
THOMAS, CHRISTOPHER   January 29, 2013
Make it catch and release, do not remove form water, single barbless hooks, no deeper than 120 feet of water, closed to fishing in bays were rivers empty into the sound. (e.g. Skagit Bay, Elliot Bay). This could be a huge oppertunity to create a sport or big game fish fishery. Charge a fee or special tag to fish for the sharks. This will create revenue.
STAJDUHAR, GABE   January 29, 2013
I do NOT agree.

Other Comments Received