February 17, 2005
Contact: Pat Pattillo, (360) 902-2705
Deb Kuttel, (360) 902-2819
Public meeting scheduled on 2005 salmon forecast
OLYMPIA - Anglers will get an early indication of this year's salmon-fishing prospects at a public meeting here March 1, hosted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Kicking off the annual season-setting process for salmon fisheries, WDFW biologists will present their initial forecasts of 2005 salmon returns at the meeting scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the auditorium of Office Building 2 at 1115 Washington St. on the Capitol Campus in Olympia.
Those in attendance will have an opportunity to ask questions about the pre-season forecasts and participate in work sessions focusing on key salmon-management issues in Puget Sound, the Columbia River and Washington coastal areas.
"We encourage anglers and others interested in our state's fisheries to get involved in the decision-making process," said WDFW Director Jeff Koenings. "These preseason forecasts - which draw on information obtained through stream surveys, smolt traps and other data - really set the stage for developing our fishing seasons."
Koenings said anglers can expect another year of good fishing opportunities, although early forecasts indicate additional restrictions may be needed to protect wild salmon stocks listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.
"Our first responsibility is to protect weak, wild salmon runs," Koenings said. "But, as in past years, we'll look for opportunities to provide salmon fisheries on abundant stocks wherever possible."
Public review of WDFW's pre-season forecasts kicks off the annual "North of Falcon" season-setting process, in which state, tribal and federal fisheries managers meet to establish salmon seasons for the Washington coast, Puget Sound and the Columbia River.
That process is held in conjunction with public meetings conducted by the federal Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC), which determines fishing season in the ocean waters from three to 200 miles off the Pacific coast.
Final seasons for Washington's salmon fisheries are scheduled for adoption by April 8.
Information about the season-setting process is available on WDFW's North of Falcon website, which will be updated to include the pre-season salmon forecasts after the March 1 meeting. Key public meetings in the season-setting process are as follows:
- March 1 - Preseason forecasts and fishery discussions, 9 a.m.- 3p.m., Office Building 2 Auditorium (Department of Social and Health Services headquarters), 1115 Washington St., Olympia.
- March 6-10 - Pacific Fishery Management Council, Sacramento.
- March 8 - Coastal fisheries discussion, 7 p.m.- 9 p.m., Montesano High School, 303 North Church Street, Montesano.
- March 10 - Puget Sound fisheries discussion, 7 p.m.-9 p.m., WDFW Mill Creek Office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd., Mill Creek.
- March 14 - Columbia River fisheries discussion, 9 a.m., Vancouver Water Resources Education Center, 4600 S.E. Columbia Way, Vancouver.
- March 16 - North of Falcon meeting, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Natural Resources Bldg. Room 172, 1111 Washington St. S.E., Olympia.
- March 29 - North of Falcon meeting, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Embassy Suites Hotel Lynnwood, 20610 44th Ave. West.
- April 4-8 - Final Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting, Sheraton Hotel, 1320 Broadway Plaza, Tacoma.