OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to retain the current fishing season for cabezon in Puget Sound during a meeting today in Olympia.
The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), decided against a proposal that would have limited the fishing season for cabezon by several months.
Instead, the commission kept in place the current season and deferred further action to determine the effect of other fishing restrictions adopted in recent years, including two measures in March. 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.
Measures adopted earlier this year include reducing the daily catch limit of cabezon to one fish and prohibiting the retention of cabezon measuring less than 18 inches in length in those marine areas.
Cabezon are bottomfish that inhabit rocky areas of Puget Sound, where the population is at low but stable numbers. The fish can measure up to 30-inches in length and weigh up to 25 pounds.
In other business, the commission held a public hearing and received a briefing 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 approved several land transactions and received briefings on a variety of topics including the status of the Colockum elk herd and the effect of salmon fisheries on southern resident killer whales.