OLYMPIA — Adoption of 2006-07 statewide sportfishing rules and a policy to guide new summer chinook salmon fisheries in the lower Columbia River are on the agenda for the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission’s public meeting here Feb. 10 and 11.
The nine-member citizen panel, which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), is scheduled to begin its meeting at 8:30 a.m., both days, in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. SE., in Olympia.
The proposed five-year summer chinook policy would guide non-Indian fishing on Columbia River summer chinook runs, which are now healthy after decades of recovery efforts, said Bill Tweit, WDFW’s Columbia River policy lead. The recovery efforts included improvements in juvenile-fish passage around the river’s dams and supplementation of wild stocks.
Since 2000, returns of summer chinook, which enter the river in June and July bound for the upper Columbia River basin, have rebounded to levels that allow fishing in the lower river, Tweit said.
The proposed policy would provide guidance in allocating harvest opportunities to non-tribal recreational and commercial fishers downriver from Priest Rapids Dam. The policy would meet species-conservation and tribal harvest-sharing objectives and preserve recreational fishing opportunities above Priest Rapids Dam, Tweit said.
In other action, the Commission is scheduled to vote on a package of sportfishing rule proposals for the 2006-07 fishing season. The rules package, which was developed with public input and was discussed at the Commission’s November meeting, includes 102 separate proposals. No additional public comment will be taken at the Feb. 10 meeting.
Among the proposed changes is a rule to change the lower Cedar River from a catch-and-release fishery to allow anglers to harvest two 12-to-16-inch trout per day from June 1 through Aug. 31. Catch-and-release rules would remain in place on the upper river, above the State Route 18 bridge.
Other sportfishing proposals would increase the daily limit on hatchery steelhead to three fish in some coastal rivers, and modify selective-gear rules to allow fishing from a boat with an electric motor and require anglers to use knotless nets in waters with selective-gear rules.
In addition, the Commission is scheduled to hear briefings on:
- Puget Sound’s Dungeness crab fishery
- Two new efforts to explore development of habitat conservation plans for the Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) program and for WDFW wildlife areas
- Options for controlling sea lion interactions with fisheries
- New hunter safety education materials and a new online testing process
The complete Commission meeting agenda may be viewed on the WDFW website.