OLYMPIA -- The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)
authorized a sockeye fishing schedule for this week in Northern Puget Sound that
allowed for a two-day, non-Indian gillnet fishery and reef net fishery in addition to a
three day tribal fishery.
A purse seine fishery was not included in the schedule to protect chinook salmon
because the bycatch of chinook had reached a level which concerned WDFW resource
managers. The majority of this bycatch has been accrued by the non-Indian purse
seine fishery. The mesh size restrictions imposed on the gillnet fishery will offer
protection to chinook.
Bern Shanks, WDFW director, said, "We need to carefully manage this fishery
because the chinook are a candidate for federal Endangered Species Act listing next
year. Limiting the fishery is one thing we can do today to protect wild chinook."
By not opening the region around the San Juan Islands, the bycatch of chinook
and migratory seabirds will be reduced. With the northern diversion of sockeye around
the east side of Vancouver Island and the Canadian purse seine fishery operating in the
Strait of Juan de Fuca, few sockeye are expected to be available to an American
fishery in that region.
Additional fishing will be considered by WDFW and tribal managers at a Friday,
Aug. 29, meeting. A decision on Friday may include the possibility of a purse seine
fishery in the northern portion of catch area 7-A on Saturday, Sunday, and possibly