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WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE     Print Version
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091


March 12, 2013
Contact: Pat Pattillo, (360) 902-2705

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Federal council adopts options
for ocean salmon sport fisheries

TACOMA – Anglers fishing along the Washington coast will likely see a lower catch quota for chinook salmon this year, while the quota for coho is expected to be similar to last season, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.

Three options for ocean salmon fisheries approved today by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) anticipate a lower abundance of lower Columbia River hatchery chinook in the ocean, but an increase in Columbia River hatchery coho. The PFMC establishes fishing seasons in ocean waters three to 200 miles off the Pacific coast.

The three options establish a framework for developing fishing opportunities on healthy wild and hatchery stocks while meeting conservation goals for weak salmon populations, said Phil Anderson, WDFW director.

“The abundance of lower Columbia River chinook is forecast to be down from last year, but the expected return should be strong enough to allow for another quality chinook fishery in the ocean,” said Anderson. “While a higher abundance of Columbia River hatchery coho is forecast this year, the quota will likely be similar to 2012 because of the need to meet conservation objectives for naturally spawning stocks.”

Anderson, who represents WDFW on the management council, said two of the three options include recreational mark-selective fisheries for hatchery chinook in June for the fourth straight year. Mark-selective fisheries allow anglers to catch and keep abundant hatchery salmon, but require that they release wild salmon. Hatchery fish are marked for identification with a missing adipose fin.

The options also include allowing hatchery chinook retention in the LaPush and Neah Bay areas during short halibut openings in May.

About 126,000 lower Columbia River hatchery chinook are expected back this season, about 65,000 fewer fish than anticipated last year. Those salmon, known as “tules,” are the backbone of the recreational ocean chinook fishery.

The abundance of Columbia River coho is forecast to be about 500,000 fish, about 183,000 more fish than last year’s forecast. Columbia River coho also account for a significant portion of the ocean catch.

The PFMC is expected to approve final harvest guidelines for this year’s recreational ocean fishery in early April. The three options announced today establish parameters for state and tribal fishery managers in designing this year’s fishing seasons. The recreational fishing options are:

  • Option 1 – 51,500 chinook and 75,600 coho.
  • Option 2 – 41,500 chinook and 71,400 coho.
  • Option 3 – 30,000 chinook and 63,000 coho.

The PFMC last year adopted recreational ocean fishing quotas of 51,500 chinook and 69,720 coho salmon.

Under each option for this year, the ocean recreational fishery would vary:

Option 1: The recreational salmon fishing season in marine areas 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay) would begin with two three-day openings for hatchery chinook, May 10-12 and May 17-19. The mark-selective fishery for hatchery chinook in those two marine areas would then reopen June 15 and run seven days a week through June 28. Mark selective fisheries for hatchery chinook would be open seven days a week June 8-June 22 in Marine Area 2 (Westport/Ocean Shores) and June 8-June 21 in Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco). In all areas, anglers would have a daily limit of two salmon, except anglers must release coho and wild chinook. The fisheries could close earlier if a coastwide quota of 8,000 hatchery chinook is reached.

The traditional recreational salmon season for chinook and hatchery coho would begin June 22 in Marine Area 1, June 23 in Marine Area 2 and June 29 in marine areas 3 and 4. Anglers would have a daily limit of two salmon in marine areas 3 and 4. Those fishing marine areas 1 and 2 would also have a two-salmon daily limit, but could keep only one chinook. The fishery would be open daily in marine areas 1, 3 and 4, while Marine Area 2 would be open Sunday through Thursday. Anglers also would be allowed to retain one additional pink salmon in marine areas 3 and 4.

Option 2: The recreational salmon fishing season in marine areas 3 and 4 would begin with a three-day opening for hatchery chinook, May 17-19. The mark-selective fishery for hatchery chinook in those two marine areas would then reopen June 15 and run daily through June 21. Mark selective fisheries for hatchery chinook would be open daily June 15-June 29 in Marine Area 2 and June 15-June 21 in Marine Area 1. In all areas, anglers would have a daily limit of two salmon, except anglers must release coho and wild chinook. The fisheries could close earlier if a coastwide quota of 8,000 hatchery chinook is reached.

The traditional recreational salmon season would then open for chinook and hatchery coho June 22 in marine areas 1, 3 and 4 and June 30 in Marine Area 2. The season would run through Sept. 22 in marine areas 2, 3 and 4 and through Sept. 30 in Marine Area 1. Marine areas 1, 3 and 4 would be open seven days a week, while Marine Area 2 would be open Sunday through Thursday. Anglers fishing all four marine areas would be allowed to retain one chinook as part of a two-salmon daily limit. Anglers also would be allowed to retain two additional pink salmon in marine areas 3 and 4.

Option 3: The recreational salmon season would open for chinook and hatchery coho June 28 in marine areas 3 and 4, June 29 in Marine Area 1 and June 30 in Marine Area 2. The season would be open Tuesday through Saturday each week in marine areas 3 and 4 through Sept. 15. Marine Area 1 would be open daily through Sept. 30, while Marine Area 2 would be open Sunday through Thursday each week through Sept. 22. Anglers fishing all four marine areas would be allowed to retain one chinook as part of a two-salmon daily limit. Anglers also would be allowed to retain three additional pink salmon in marine areas 3 and 4. Also included in this option is the possibility for anglers to retain both wild and hatchery coho beginning Sept. 1 in all four marine areas.

More details on these ocean options will be available on PFMC’s website at http://www.pcouncil.org/. A public hearing on the three options for ocean salmon fisheries is scheduled for March 25 in Westport.

Chinook and coho quotas approved by the PFMC will be part of a comprehensive 2013 salmon fishing package, which includes marine and freshwater fisheries throughout Puget Sound, the Columbia River and Washington’s coastal areas. State and tribal co-managers are currently developing those fisheries.

The co-managers will complete the final 2013 salmon fisheries package in conjunction with the PFMC process during its April meeting.

Meanwhile, several public meetings are scheduled in March to discuss regional fisheries issues. A schedule of public meetings, as well as salmon run-size forecasts and more information about the salmon-season setting process, can be found on WDFW’s North of Falcon website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/.