OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider a number of regulation changes for sport and commercial fishers, as well as a special gear exemption that would allow sport anglers with certain disabilities to use spin gear on fly fishing-only waters, at a two-day regular meeting next week in Tukwila.
The meeting begins at 9 a.m. Feb. 9 and 8 a.m. Feb. 10, in the Ballroom of the Best Western Southcenter, 15901 West Valley Road, Tukwila.
The commission will hear public testimony before considering a proposal that would allow anglers with permanent disabilities to their upper extremities increased access to waters designated fly fishing-only.
Current fishing regulations allow only fly-fishing gear, which typically requires two hands and mobility, to be used in 20 Washington waters designated as "fly fishing-only." Some anglers with disabilities cannot operate fly fishing gear, however spin gear may be operated with one hand.
The commission also will consider modifications to a package of other sport fishing rules. Since public testimony was taken on those proposals at the commission meeting in December, no further testimony will be heard. Proposals the commission will consider include:
- Allowing saltwater anglers in private vessels to continue fishing for food fish or shellfish until the daily bag limit for all lawful fishers on board has been reached.
- Requiring fishers to retain proof of hatchery or wild origin of their catch until they have stopped fishing for the day and changing the possession limit aboard a boat to one daily limit in fresh form.
On various other fisheries-related items, the Commission will hear public comment on proposed rule changes and amendments, including:
- Increasing the number of units of personal gear for recreational crab harvesters in Hood Canal from two to three units to help mitigate the allocation impact of lost harvest opportunity for recreational fishers during soft shell crab closures.
- Prohibiting the buying, selling or bartering of chum salmon eggs without the fish or carcasses from which the eggs came. Eggs and fish or carcasses would be required to be sold simultaneously to the same buyer.
- Allowing a 10-fathom maximum bunt length and removing the bunt depth restriction on purse seine nets.
- Establishing a quick reporting process for fish buyers in fisheries where real-time catch summaries are critical for managers to react quickly.
In other business, the commission will consider a 2001 North of Falcon policy. In an effort to continue public involvement in the North of Falcon season-setting process, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has created a new North of Falcon web page on the Internet.
The North of Falcon forum, which is named for Cape Falcon in Oregon, is designed to reach agreement on salmon fisheries within three miles of the Washington coast before coast-wide seasons are adopted by the Pacific Fishery Management Council April 2 to 6 in Sacramento.
In addition, the Commission will be briefed on the status of several WDFW activities, programs and issues, including use of lead shot for hunting game birds; a review of wildlife damage claims procedures; policies for removal of problem wildlife; Habitat Program structure and priorities; and rockfish stock assessments.
The complete commission meeting agenda may be found on the department's website.