OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to consider restricting the fishing season for cabezon by several months in Puget Sound during a meeting June 7-8 in Olympia.
In addition, the commission will hold a public hearing on possible options for providing more protection for Puget Sound’s giant Pacific octopus population.
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 in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. S.E. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. June 7 and 8:30 a.m. June 8.
A complete agenda for the meeting is available on the commission’s webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/meetings/2013/.
During the meeting, the commission will conduct a public hearing and consider taking action on a proposal that would limit the fishing season for cabezon in marine areas 4-11 and 13 to May 1 through June 15. Currently anglers can fish for cabezon in Marine Area 4 year-round and in marine areas 5-11 and 13 from May 1 through Nov. 30.
In March, the commission voted to reduce the daily catch limit of cabezon to one fish in marine areas 4-11 and 13 and prohibit the retention of cabezon measuring less than 18 inches in length.
The commission also decided to retain the current fishing season for cabezon in those areas, but did request that WDFW seek additional public input on restricting the cabezon season to May 1 through June 15.
Cabezon are bottomfish that inhabit rocky areas of Puget Sound. The fish can measure up to 30-inches in length and weigh up to 25 pounds. In recent years, WDFW has implemented restrictions on fishing that have provided greater protection for several bottomfish species.
In other business, the commission will conduct a public hearing on a list of four options for managing Puget Sound’s giant Pacific octopus population.
Those options, developed by WDFW in consultation with a 12-member citizen advisory group, range from one that would make no change in current rules to a ban on harvesting octopuses anywhere in Puget Sound.
Under current rules, a person with a valid state fishing license can harvest one giant Pacific octopus per day in most areas of Puget Sound.
The commission called for a review of those rules after the legal harvest of a giant Pacific octopus near Alki Point in Seattle sparked a public outcry last October. The commission received three petitions signed by hundreds of scuba divers and other members of the public seeking protection for octopuses from recreational harvest.
The public can find more information about the four options now under consideration online at http://www.wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/octopus/. The commission will consider taking action on new regulations governing the harvest of octopuses in Puget Sound at its Aug. 2-3 meeting in Olympia.
Also during its June meeting, the commission will consider several land transactions and receive briefings on a variety of topics including the status of the Colockum elk herd, the effect of salmon fisheries on southern resident killer whales, and hoof disease in elk in Southwest Washington.