OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has approved a proposal to allow sport fishers with certain disabilities greater access to fly fishing-only waters, and has amended rules on the sale of chum salmon eggs to better determine how many chum are being caught by commercial fishers.
The decisions, along with adoption of a variety of other sport and commercial fishing regulation changes and a 2001 North of Falcon policy, were adopted at a two-day commission meeting in Tukwila that ended today.
Under the new fly fishing proposal, an angler with a permanent, upper-extremity disability may now obtain a special permit to use spin-casting gear with a casting bubble and fly on waters designated for fly fishing gear only. The special permit must be in the fisher's possession while fishing.
The commission's action on rules governing the wholesale buying and selling of chum salmon eggs was taken because high market prices for salmon eggs have led to increased instances of eggs being sold separately from the fish.
Under the amendments passed by the commission, it would be illegal to sell or barter chum salmon eggs unless all carcases are sold to the same buyer. Any licensed wholesale dealer who is the original receiver of the eggs must also purchase from the fisher all male and female chum salmon or carcasses from which the eggs were taken. .
The new North of Falcon policy focuses on continuing to improve public involvement in the annual process that determines salmon fishing seasons. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has created a new North of Falcon web page at www.wdfw.wa.gov/fish/northfalcon/ on the Internet to inform and educate people about the process, which is designed to reach agreement on salmon fisheries statewide.
After hearing public testimony in December on a package of sport fishing regulation changes, the commission also set specific fishing seasons on a variety of fisheries around the state and adopted new regulations that:
- Allow boat anglers in areas where a saltwater license is valid to continue using fishing or shellfishing gear until every legal fisher on board has a daily limit.
- Restrict the on-board possession limit in Marine Areas 1 to 6 to one daily limit in fresh form for each legal fisher.
- Require fishers to retain proof of hatchery or wild origin for their catch until they have stopped fishing for the day and landed their catch.
- Allow sturgeon fishers to continue to catch and release sturgeon after catching their daily limit or filling out a sturgeon catch card, to provide increased recreational opportunity. Mortality on sturgeon caught and released without being removed from the water is minimal.
- Close Marine Areas 5 to 13 to the retention of six-gill sharks because of recently developed recreational fisheries that may have reduced at least one population of the slow-growing shark, which has a low reproduction rate.
- Reduce, for conservation purposes, the daily limit for yelloweye and canary rockfish to one each. Action taken by the Commission limits anglers to 10 rockfish, no more than two may be canary or yelloweye.
The commission also adopted a 2001 trial sardine fishery, based on a 15,000 metric ton harvest guideline. The trial fishery will enable WDFW scientists to collect data on this emerging fishery.
In addition, the Commission was briefed on the status of several WDFW activities, programs and issues, including the use of lead shot for hunting game birds; a review of wildlife damage claims procedures; policies for removal of problem wildlife; and rockfish stock assessments.