OLYMPIA – The public will have a final chance to testify on proposed sportfishing rule changes for the 2007-2008 season when the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission meets Nov. 3-4 in Vancouver, Wash.
The commission, which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), is scheduled to begin its public meeting at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 3 at the Red Lion Hotel, 100 Columbia St., in Vancouver. The meeting will continue at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 4.
One of the 39 sportfishing rules proposed for the 2007-2008 season would define a boundary for regulatory purposes between the Snake and Columbia rivers at their confluence in Pasco. A defined boundary is necessary because the two rivers have different fishing regulations for salmon and steelhead, said Bob Gibbons, WDFW freshwater fish manager.
Another proposed rule would prohibit the use of lead sinkers weighing a half-ounce or less at Ferry and Swan lakes in Ferry County and Pierre and Bonaparte lakes in Okanogan County. The rule is intended to protect nesting loons that could be harmed by ingesting the small lead sinkers, Gibbons said.
Other rule proposals include:
- A requirement for anglers fishing on the Columbia River from Bonneville Dam downstream to the Hamilton Boat Launch to stop fishing for sturgeon once they’ve caught their daily limit of one.
- The expansion of a catch-and-release steelhead fishery in the Skagit River.
- Prohibiting green sturgeon retention statewide.
The commission is expected to act on the 2007-2008 sportfishing rules package, which can be viewed at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/index.htm, during its Feb. 2-3 meeting.
The public also will have an opportunity to comment on a proposal that would permanently prohibit the commercial harvest of green sturgeon. In July, WDFW prohibited the retention of green sturgeon by emergency rule after the southern population was listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. Although the southern population does not spawn in Washington’s waters, green sturgeon are incidentally harvested in Columbia River, Willapa and Grays Harbor gillnet salmon fisheries and in the state’s marine groundfish fishery.
In addition, the commission will be briefed on a draft upper Columbia River fishery management plan; statewide sturgeon issues; a proposal requiring licensed game farms to test annually for avian influenza; landowner hunting permits that are used to help address elk damage problems and improve hunter access to private lands; the 2007-2009 spring black bear seasons and regulations; big-game and wild turkey auction, raffle and special incentive permits; deer and elk area descriptions; selective fishing for mass-marked hatchery chinook salmon; and a Cedar River trout population study.
A preliminary agenda for the meeting is posted on the commission’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/com/nov0406.htm.