OLYMPIA – Beginning Aug. 5, recreational coastal fishing for bottomfish and lingcod will be prohibited in waters deeper than 180 feet in an effort to reduce catches of canary rockfish, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.
The closure takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on Aug. 5 and will remain in place through Dec. 31. It includes all seaward waters of the 30-fathom depth contour in marine areas 2, 3 and 4, from the Westport area north to Neah Bay.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC), the federal panel that manages fisheries in waters three to 200 miles offshore, declared the Washington coastal canary rockfish population an “overfished species” in 2000. Since then, the panel has been managing canary rockfish under a rebuilding plan that includes harvest guidelines for state recreational and commercial fisheries
Michele Culver, WDFW marine resources policy coordinator, said canary rockfish are caught in recreational fisheries by anglers who are targeting other species of bottomfish in deep water. Canary rockfish have a swim bladder, which makes them susceptible to higher mortality rates when caught in deep water.
“Recreational anglers have voluntarily modified their fishing behavior by avoiding areas that are known to hold canary rockfish and other species that are known to associate with them, including yellowtail and widow rockfish,” Culver said.
Even with the voluntary fishing modifications, the new bottomfishing closure is necessary this year because additional incidental catch of canary rockfish could exceed the PFMC-established harvest guideline. WDFW took a similar action in October 2003 when all bottomfishing was closed outside of three miles from the coast.
Culver said there are healthy populations of other bottomfish species within the 30-fathom line that anglers can pursue, including black rockfish and lingcod.
The 30-fathom line ranges from less than one mile to several miles offshore. Anglers who are targeting bottomfish should use a GPS unit to ensure compliance with the new rule.
Coordinates for the 30-fathom line are:
48°24.79’N lat. 124°44.07’W long.;
48°24.80’N lat. 124°44.74’W long.;
48°23.94’N lat. 124°44.70’W long.;
48°23.51’N lat. 124°45.01’W long.;
48°22.59’N lat. 124°44.97’W long.;
48°21.75’N lat. 124°45.26’W long.;
48°21.23’N lat. 124°47.78’W long.;
48°20.32’N lat. 124°49.53’W long.;
48°16.72’N lat. 124°51.58’W long.;
48°10.00’N lat. 124°52.58’W long.;
48°05.63’N lat. 124°52.91’W long.;
47°53.37’N lat. 124°47.37’W long.;
47°40.28’N lat. 124°40.07’W long.;
47°31.70’N lat. 124°37.03’W long.;
47°25.67’N lat. 124°34.79’W long.;
47°12.82’N lat. 124°29.12’W long.;
46°52.94’N lat. 124°22.58’W long.;
46°44.18’N lat. 124°18.00’W long.;
46°38.17’N lat. 124°15.88’W long.