OLYMPIA - Federal, state and tribal fisheries managers will meet in Vancouver, Wash., next week to finalize Washington's 2003 salmon fishing seasons.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) meets April 7-11 in Vancouver, Wash., to set seasons for chinook and coho salmon fisheries in waters 3 to 200 miles offshore.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and treaty Indian tribal fisheries representatives will meet in conjunction with the federal Pacific Fishery Management Council to establish a comprehensive fisheries plan for "inside" coastal waters, as well as the Columbia River, Puget Sound, Hood Canal and other state waters.
Proposed recreational ocean fishing options for ocean waters are 59,600 chinook and 225,000 coho; 56,000 chinook and 187,500 coho; and 47,500 chinook and 150,000 coho. By comparison, the 2002 recreational ocean fishing quotas were 60,252 chinook and 109,630 coho.
Fisheries managers are considering a proposal to increase the minimum size required for chinook salmon retention in ocean fisheries from the current 24-inch minimum length to 26 inches in length. The proposed daily recreational bag limits are two fish, no more than one of which can be a chinook.
All recreational ocean coho fisheries proposed for 2003 would be under selective fisheries rules. Anglers would be allowed to retain only hatchery-reared fish, identified by a clipped adipose fin.
Also up for consideration is a mark-selective recreational fishery for hatchery chinook salmon in the Strait of Juan de Fuca in July and August. The proposed fishery would allow anglers to keep fin-clipped hatchery chinook in an area between the communities of Sekiu and Port Angeles.
Another proposal up for discussion would add one pink salmon to the daily bag limit for fishers in Marine Areas 3 and 4 (LaPush to Neah Bay), for a total of three fish per day. Pink salmon are expected to return to northern Puget Sound-area rivers in strong numbers, and a bag limit of four pink per day is being considered for marine areas 5 through 9.
Fisheries managers do not anticipate this year's Cedar River sockeye salmon run will be strong enough to support a recreational fishery in Lake Washington.
WDFW has a website detailing the preseason fishery planning process on the Internet.