April 05, 2002
Contact: Phil Anderson, (360) 902-2720,
or Pat Pattillo, (360) 902-2705
Talks to finalize 2002 salmon fishing seasons set for April 8-12
OLYMPIA - Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), tribal and federal fisheries managers are nearing completion of a final salmon fishing plan for 2002 that protects an expected poor return of Columbia River coho salmon, but also takes advantage of a bumper crop of chinook salmon expected to return to the Columbia.
State and treaty tribal co-managers have concluded a second round of season-setting meetings in preparation for next week's coastwide federal Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) meeting, when the state's overall fisheries package is expected to be finalized.
The PFMC, which meets in Portland April 8-12, establishes fishing levels for chinook and coho salmon along the coast, while state and tribal co-managers meet in conjunction with the federal panel to develop fishing seasons for Washington waters.
In addition to coastal fisheries, the 2002 fisheries package that is expected to be adopted next week will include salmon fishing seasons for the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Hood Canal and Puget Sound, said WDFW Intergovernmental Policy Director Phil Anderson.
With salmon returns for many areas expected to be similar to last year's returns, Anderson said that the final fishing package could look a lot like the 2001 package.
One notable exception is on the Columbia River, where the pre-season forecast calls for a return of 677,000 chinook salmon, compared to 365,000 last year. Anderson said the anticipated high abundance of Columbia River chinook should translate into significant fishing opportunity to commercial and recreational fishers.
The Columbia River coho forecast is for only about 360,000 fish, however, compared to the 1.5 million that returned last year. The relatively skimpy number of Columbia River coho means fisheries managers must shape seasons to limit excessive impacts to those weak stocks.
"We feel confident in our ability to protect weak coho stocks while still offering good fishing opportunity on healthier runs," Anderson said.
The PFMC is one of eight regional fishery management councils established by the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 and manages fisheries 3-200 miles offshore off the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington. The council has representatives from Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho and Alaska state fisheries management agencies, federal and tribal fisheries management agencies, plus commercial and recreational fishing representatives.
The PFMC will adopt one of three options for chinook and coho salmon coastal fisheries during next week's meeting. The options are:
- Option 1: The total non-tribal quota would be 150,000 chinook and 120,000 coho. Of these amounts, 70,000 chinook and 112,500 coho would be reserved for the recreational fishery, and 80,00 chinook and 38,000 coho would be reserved for commercial non-treaty fisheries.
- Option 2: The total non-tribal quota would be 120,000 chinook and 120,000 coho. Of those amounts, 54,500 chinook and 104,000 coho would be reserved for the recreational fishery, and 65,500 chinook and 16,000 coho would be reserved for commercial non-treaty fisheries.
- Option 3: The total non-tribal quota would be 90,000 chinook and 90,000 coho. Of those amounts, 45,000 chinook and 67,500 coho would be reserved for the recreational fishery, and 45,000 chinook and 22,500 coho would be reserved for commercial non-treaty fisheries.
Fishing license fees remain the same as last year: $21.90 for freshwater fishing for resident adults (16-69 years of age); $19.71 for saltwater; $7.67 for shellfish/seaweed, and $39.42 for a combination license for all three activities. Licenses can be purchased at WDFW offices and dealers across the state or by credit card at http://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/ on the Internet.
For additional information on the North of Falcon process click here.