OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider adoption of new management guidelines that address the declining abundance of Columbia River white sturgeon during a public meeting here Jan. 7-8.
The commission, which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), also will discuss Puget Sound crab-fishing seasons and hold a public hearing on a proposed fishing moratorium associated with the removal of two dams on the Elwha River.
The commission will convene at 8:30 a.m. both days in Room 172 on the first floor of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. S.E., in Olympia. A complete meeting agenda is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/meetings.html on the commission’s website.
On the second day of the meeting, the commission will consider adopting a policy to guide WDFW in negotiating a joint three-year management agreement with Oregon for sturgeon fisheries on the lower Columbia River.
Fishery managers from both states have expressed concerns about declines in sturgeon abundance in recent years, and have recommended a 30 percent reduction in harvest levels for sport and commercial fisheries below Bonneville Dam from 2011 through 2013. Final decisions on harvest levels and fishing seasons are expected in early February.
Meanwhile, with two major dams on the Elwha River scheduled for removal starting in 2011, the commission will accept public comments on a proposed fishing moratorium designed to support restoration of native salmon and trout populations in that watershed.
WDFW, in conjunction with tribal and federal fishery managers, has proposed a fishing closure in the Elwha River Basin to protect fish during the dam-removal process and encourage their expansion into 70 miles of new spawning and rearing habitat.
The commission is scheduled to make a decision on the proposed fishing moratorium at its Feb. 4-5 meeting in Olympia, where it will also consider adopting new sport-crabbing regulations for Puget Sound.
In October, the commission approved a new crab-fishing policy designed to expand sport-fishing opportunities for Puget Sound crabbers. At their upcoming meeting, the commission will receive a briefing from WDFW fish managers that focuses on how the proposed crab regulations conform to the new policy.
In other matters, WDFW will brief the commission on issues regarding the state’s Columbia River summer chinook policy; the North of Falcon season-setting policy; the Commission for Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee; and the department’s “Turn in a Poacher” program.