OLYMPIA — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider adopting a new package of sportfishing rules for 2010-12, as well as updates to the Columbia River sturgeon management policy, during a public meeting Feb. 4-6 in Olympia.
The commission, a nine-member citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will convene for its regular meeting Feb. 5-6 in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. S.E. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. both days.
Prior to that meeting, the commission will conduct a work session Feb. 4 on strategic planning and budget preparation. The work session is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. in Room 537 in the Natural Resources Building.
During the Feb. 5-6 meeting, the commission will consider adopting more than 100 sportfishing rules, which were developed with public input and discussed at the commission’s November and December meetings. Those proposed rules range from a set of protective measures for rockfish to a new harvest schedule and daily bag limit for Dungeness crab in Puget Sound.
Other proposals would prohibit the harvest of all species of “unclassified” marine fish and invertebrates, such as blennies and starfish; require the use of single-point, barbless hooks for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River from the mouth of the river to McNary Dam; and prohibit the retention of wild steelhead on the Green (Duwamish), Pysht and Hoko rivers.
More details on those and other proposed rules are available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals.
In other business, the commission is scheduled to consider updates to the Columbia River sturgeon management policy. Surveys indicate white sturgeon are declining in number, prompting fishery managers in Washington and Oregon to consider reducing this year’s harvest by 20 percent to 50 percent. WDFW is seeking the commission’s guidance in developing new management measures prior to meeting Feb. 18 with Oregon fishery managers to set 2010 fishing seasons.
The commission also is scheduled to discuss the Columbia River spring chinook management policy in light of the 2010 fishing season. Although this year’s upriver spring chinook run is expected to be one of the strongest on record, a recent negotiated agreement requires the states of Washington and Oregon to take additional steps to ensure that catch-balancing objectives for tribal and non-tribal fisheries are achieved.
At the commission’s January meeting, WDFW fishery managers advised the commission they plan to hold back at least 30 percent of the states’ catch allocation as a “buffer” until there is strong evidence the upriver spring chinook run will meet expectations.
Also during the February meeting, commissioners will hear briefings on the Puget Sound chinook salmon harvest management plan, revenue generated by wildlife-themed personalized license plates, and the Columbia River summer chinook salmon policy.
For more information about future commission meetings, visit WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/meetings.html.