OLYMPIA - The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will host its annual preseason forecasts and fishery discussions for western Washington salmon fisheries March 1 in Olympia.
The meeting is set for 9:30 a.m. in the auditorium of the General Administration Building in Olympia, 11th Avenue and Columbia Street.
WDFW staff will provide an overview of expected abundance for various salmon species throughout the state this year. Interested citizens can also take part in fishery work sessions focusing on key issues for Puget Sound, the Columbia River and Washington coastal areas.
Pat Pattillo, WDFW salmon policy coordinator, said that while there will likely be excellent fishing opportunities throughout the region again this year, some early forecasts indicate more-restrictive fishing plans might be needed to protect federally protected stocks.
State, tribal and federal fisheries managers will meet March 8-12 in Tacoma with the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) to develop a range of options for this year's commercial and recreational ocean chinook and coho salmon fisheries.
Two public meetings will be sponsored by WDFW following the PFMC meeting to plan salmon fishing seasons for Washington's inside waters, including Puget Sound. These "North of Falcon" meetings are scheduled for March 17 at the Lynnwood Embassy Suites and March 30 at the SeaTac Holiday Inn. Meetings start at 9 a.m.
WDFW has set three additional public meetings in March to discuss regional fisheries issues. Input from these discussions will be considered as the pre-season process moves into the North of Falcon and PFMC meetings to determine final 2004 salmon seasons. The meetings are set for:
- March 9 starting at 7 p.m. at the Willapa Harbor Chamber of Commerce in South Bend for Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay fisheries issues;
- March 11 starting at 7 p.m. at WDFW's Mill Creek office to discuss Puget Sound fisheries issues;
- March 16 starting at 9 a.m. at the Columbia River Double Tree Inn at Jantzen Beach in Portland to discuss Columbia River fisheries issues.
The PFMC is expected to adopt the final ocean fishing harvest levels and seasons at its April 5-9 meeting in Sacramento. The co-managers will complete the 2004 salmon fisheries package for Washington's inside waters by the conclusion of the PFMC's April meeting.
WDFW has again dedicated a portion of its website to the preseason planning process. Salmon forecast information, proposed fishing options and details on upcoming public meetings will be posted as they become available on the department's website, http://wdfw.wa.gov/ on the Internet.