VANCOUVER - State and tribal co-managers yesterday agreed on a package of salmon fisheries that meets conservation goals for wild salmon populations and provides fishing opportunities on healthy stocks.
Washington's 2014 salmon fishing seasons, developed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and treaty tribal co-managers, were finalized yesterday during the Pacific Fishery Management Council's (PFMC) meeting in Vancouver. The regulations cover salmon fisheries in Puget Sound, Washington's ocean and coastal areas and the Columbia River.
WDFW fishery managers worked closely with tribal managers to develop salmon seasons and catch quotas that meet conservation goals for wild salmon, said Phil Anderson, WDFW director. Many members of the public also provided valuable input.
"This year's process had a number of difficult challenges in designing salmon fisheries," he said. "We were able to overcome those challenges through a commitment by all those involved to recover and protect wild salmon stocks while providing meaningful fishing opportunities in Washington's waters."
While conservative management plans for salmon assist in aiding salmon recovery, good habitat is the backbone of strong, sustainable fisheries, said Lorraine Loomis, Swinomish Tribe fisheries manager.
"Right now we are losing salmon habitat faster than we can restore it," she said. "Fortunately, decent returns of hatchery salmon mean that both tribal and non-tribal fishermen will be on the water this year."
As in past years, recreational salmon fisheries will vary by area:
Puget Sound: Anglers will have an opportunity to take advantage of a strong return of coho and Skagit River sockeye salmon but will see adjustments to wild chinook fisheries.
The forecast for sockeye returning to Baker Lake is strong enough this year to allow for both a lake fishery, open July through September, and a fishery on the Skagit River, which will be open June 14 through June 29.
A portion of the estimated 23 million sockeye returning to Canada's Fraser River will make their way to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the waters around the San Juan Islands. Anglers fishing for sockeye in Marine Areas 5-7 will be allowed to keep two sockeye in addition to daily catch limits for other salmon during July and August.
In fall and winter, several Puget Sound marine areas will be converted to mark-selective fisheries to help protect wild chinook returning to Lake Washington and other watersheds. In the following areas, anglers will only be allowed to keep hatchery fish:
- Marine Area 11 (Tacoma/Vashon Island) will become a mark-selective fishery October through December. Anglers in Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) must release wild chinook and wild coho during the month of October and must release wild chinook from Feb. 16 through April 10.
- Marine Area 7 (the San Juan Islands) will convert to a mark-selective fishery for the month of October and the South Sound (Marine Area 13) will be restricted to hatchery chinook from Oct. 1 through April 30.
- Marine areas 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) are scheduled from July 16 through Aug. 31, but will have more restrictive in-season management triggers.
The mark-selective fishery for hatchery chinook on the Skykomish River is scheduled June 1 through July 31. Meanwhile, day closures will be in effect for all anglers on the Puyallup and Nisqually rivers this year.
Anglers on the Skokomish River will have an additional week to fish for chinook. The season will be open Aug. 1 through Sept. 1, but day closures remain in effect. The Skokomish also will be open daily for coho beginning Sept. 15.
Columbia River: The Buoy 10 salmon fishery will be open from Aug. 1 through Dec. 31. The fishery will be open for chinook and hatchery coho Aug. 1 through Sept. 1 with a daily limit of two salmon, only one of which can be chinook. From Aug. 30 through Sept 1, all retained chinook must have an adipose or left ventral clip.
From Sept. 2 through Sept. 30, anglers will have a daily limit of three hatchery coho but must release chinook. Fisheries managers will assess in-season catch and may enact in-season changes to the chinook retention in August and September. From Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, anglers can keep five fish, two of which can be chinook.
In the following fisheries, anglers fishing from the same boat may continue fishing for salmon until all licensed anglers have reached their daily limits:
- The mainstem Columbia River from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to Lewis River will be open for hatchery coho Aug. 1 through Dec. 31. Anglers will be allowed to retain one adult chinook as part of their two-adult daily limit from Aug. 1 through Sept. 6. From Sept. 7 through Sept. 14, anglers will be allowed to retain hatchery chinook. From Oct. 1 through Dec 31, anglers can retain two chinook daily.
- The Lewis River upstream to Steamboat Landing dock and the point straight across on the Oregon side of the river will be open Aug. 1 through Dec. 31 for hatchery coho and chinook, with a daily limit of two salmon.
- The Steamboat Landing dock upstream to the Bonneville Dam will be open Aug. 1 through Dec. 31 for hatchery coho and chinook with a daily limit of three salmon, two of which can be hatchery coho.
- Bonneville Dam to McNary Dam will be open Aug. 1 through Dec. 31 with a daily limit of three salmon, two of which can be hatchery coho. Anglers must release any unmarked coho caught downstream of the Hood River Bridge.
The sockeye and hatchery summer chinook fishery below Bonneville Dam will be open from June 16 through June 30 on the mainstem Columbia River, with a daily limit of two adult salmon or steelhead, or one of each.
Washington's ocean waters: The PFMC yesterday approved a recreational chinook catch quota of 59,100 fish, which is an increase of 11,000 fish from 2013's quota. The PFMC, which establishes fishing seasons in ocean waters three to 200 miles off the Pacific coast, also adopted a quota of 184,800 coho for this year's recreational ocean fishery - about 110,000 fish higher than last year's quota.
Mark-selective salmon fisheries will begin in ocean areas on various dates in May.
- The recreational salmon fishing season in Marine areas 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay) will begin with two short openings May 16 and 17, and May 23 and 24 for hatchery chinook. The mark-selective fishery for hatchery chinook in those two marine areas will then reopen May 31 and run seven days a week through June 13.
- Mark-selective fisheries for hatchery chinook will be open daily May 31 through June 13 in Marine Area 2 (Westport/Ocean Shores) and Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco). In all areas, anglers will have a daily limit of two salmon, but must release coho and wild chinook. The fisheries could close earlier if a coastwide quota of 9,000 hatchery chinook is reached.
Recreational ocean salmon fisheries for chinook and hatchery coho will be open daily beginning June 14 in Marine areas 1-4. Anglers will have a daily limit of two salmon in Marine areas 3 and 4. Those fishing Marine areas 1 and 2 also will have a two-salmon daily limit, but can keep only one chinook per day. Marine Area 4 will close Sept. 21 while Marine areas 1 and 2 close Sept. 30. Marine Area 3 closes Sept. 21 but will be open again Sept. 27 through Oct. 12.
Specific fishing seasons and regulations for marine areas in Washington and a portion of the Columbia River will be posted on WDFW's North of Falcon website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/ within a few weeks.