OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to adopt new allocation guidelines for Columbia River chinook salmon along with new fishing rules for a variety of other fisheries at a public meeting here Feb. 1-2.
In addition, the commission will hear public testimony on a steelhead management plan developed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to guide efforts to restore wild steelhead populations throughout the state.
The commission, which sets policy for WDFW, will convene Feb. 1 at 10:30 a.m. in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St., S.E. The meeting will resume at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 2. An agenda is available on the commission’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/com/meetings.htm.
In recent years, allocation guidelines developed by Washington and Oregon fishery managers have determined the share of spring and summer chinook salmon available to recreational and commercial fisheries on the Columbia River.
Because allocation guidelines in effect for 2005-07 have expired, fish and wildlife commissions for both states are working to establish new catch-sharing policies for those fisheries. More than 60 fishers testified on the issue at a packed hearing before the Washington commission earlier this month in Vancouver, Wash.
“Obviously, there's a tremendous amount of passion about those Columbia salmon,” said Jerry Gutzwiler, who chairs the nine-member commission. Action on the allocation issue is scheduled Saturday, Feb. 2, the second day of the two-day meeting in Olympia.
On the previous day, the commission will consider adoption of more than 70 new sportfishing rules proposed for waters around the state. Proposed rule changes for the 2008-09 season include:
- Changing the size measurement for sturgeon from total length to fork length.
- Separating limits for largemouth and smallmouth bass statewide.
- Allowing anglers to purchase a second catch record card for hatchery steelhead.
- Closing clam and oyster beaches that are designated as polluted and pose a risk to human health.
- Making season and area adjustments to protect listed bull trout and steelhead stocks.
- Adding wild steelhead to the list of species prohibited from being part of a fishing tournament.
The commission heard public comments on the proposed rules at a meeting Nov. 3 in Chelan, and accepted written comments through Nov. 1.
A public hearing on the steelhead management plan proposed as a framework for statewide restoration efforts is scheduled Feb. 2, immediately following commission action on Columbia River chinook guidelines. Issues addressed in the proposed plan include natural and artificial production of steelhead, fisheries management, habitat restoration, enforcement, monitoring and education.
The commission will consider final adoption of the statewide steelhead plan at its meeting March 7-8 in Olympia. For more information on the steelhead plan, see WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/steelhead/index.htm.
Also at its Feb. 1-2 meeting, the commission will consider approval of several land transactions and will receive briefings on the Puget Sound crab fishery and mineral prospecting rules.