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April 29, 2004
Contact: Tim Waters, (360) 902-2262
or Susan Yeager, (360) 902-2267

Public hearing, formal rule-making process to be held on wild steelhead moratorium

OLYMPIA -- The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission today voted to hold a hearing this summer to take public testimony on the commission's recently imposed two-year moratorium on wild steelhead retention.

The 5-1 vote came after the City of Forks filed a petition with the commission requesting that a formal rule-making process be initiated on the moratorium issue. Such proceedings require a public hearing.

Commissioner Bob Tuck voted against initiating the formal rule making process. Commissioner Lisa Pelly was absent from the meeting.

Following the public hearing, which is expected to be held in August or September, commissioners could let their earlier decision stand, or they could modify or rescind the decision.

Commissioners voted 5-3 in February to impose the moratorium, which takes effect May 1. Wild steelhead retention already had been permanently banned in much of the state, but was still allowed on several Olympic Peninsula river systems where stocks are relatively strong.

Following the moratorium vote this winter, officials with the City of Forks and others voiced objections to the commissioners' action, saying the ban would pose economic hardships for their community, a popular destination for steelhead anglers.