OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will invite public comments on proposed options for implementing the state's reform policy on Columbia River salmon management during a meeting scheduled Dec. 9-10 in Olympia.
In addition, the commission is scheduled to take action on a variety of new saltwater fishing rules as well as proposed changes in the protective status of five state wildlife species, including bald eagles, peregrine falcons, American white pelicans, marbled murrelets, and lynx.
The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will convene in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building at 1111 Washington St. S.E. in Olympia. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. both days.
A complete agenda is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/meetings.html.
The Columbia River reform policy, adopted by the commission in 2013, outlines a joint strategy by Washington and Oregon to restructure recreational and commercial salmon fisheries below Bonneville Dam. With the next phase of that plan set to take effect in 2017, state fishery managers will outline possible options for shaping the course of the reform effort in the years ahead.
Options currently under review by the commission are posted at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/lower_columbia/options.html. The public can comment on those options online and during a public comment period at the upcoming meeting at 10:15 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 10.
The commission will not take action on the Columbia River reform policy at that meeting, but will decide on 11 saltwater sportfishing rules proposed for adoption for the 2017 season.
One proposal would require that vessels fishing for bottomfish or halibut in Puget Sound carry a descending device allowing anglers to safely return rockfish to deep water. Another would make it unlawful to possess another person's shellfish or food fish in the field or in transit without written permission. To review all 11 proposals online, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/2017-2018/recommend.php
In other action, the commission will consider removing bald eagles and peregrine falcons from Washington's sensitive species list, and reducing the protective status of white pelicans from "endangered" to "threatened." Surveys show that all three species have rebounded in Washington state, due to the federal ban on the pesticide DDT and other factors.
At the same time, the commission will consider elevating the protective status of marbled murrelets and lynx to "endangered" from "threatened" status in response to declining populations of those species. More information is available on the department's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/endangered/status_review/.
The commission will also:
- Discuss plans to seek additional funding and partnerships to better connect people with nature and to implement the State Wildlife Action Plan to conserve Washington's diverse fish and wildlife and their habitats.
- Receive a staff briefing on the North of Falcon season-setting process for state salmon fisheries.
- Receive a staff briefing on scientific research projects currently underway at the department.