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August 27, 1997
Contact: Chuck Bolland (360) 902-2255

Northern Sound commercial fishing

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 Monday.