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January 27, 2011
Contact: Susan Galloway, (360) 902-2267 or
WDFW Fish Program, (360) 902-2700

Commission to consider Puget Sound crab
seasons, fishing closures in Elwha River Basin

OLYMPIA - The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to consider new Puget Sound crab-fishing seasons and proposed fishing closures associated with the removal of two dams on the Elwha River during a meeting here Feb. 4-5.

The commission, which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), also is scheduled to consider management alternatives for bottomfish in Catch Area 4B (western Strait of Juan de Fuca) and updates to the Columbia River summer chinook policy.

The commission will convene at 8:30 a.m. both days in Room 175 on the first floor of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. S.E., in Olympia. A complete meeting agenda is available on the commission’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/meetings.html.

In October, the commission approved a new crab-fishing policy designed to expand sport-fishing opportunities for Puget Sound crabbers. At its upcoming meeting, the commission will consider new crab regulations for the 2011 season that conform to the new policy.

Meanwhile, with two major dams on the Elwha River scheduled for removal starting later this year, the commission will consider adopting a moratorium on fishing designed to support restoration of native salmon and trout populations in that watershed. One proposal calls for closing all waters to fishing in the Elwha River Basin, while another alternative would maintain some fishing opportunity in Lake Sutherland.

State, federal and tribal fishery managers have proposed fishing closures in the watershed to protect fish during the dam-removal process and encourage their expansion into 70 miles of new spawning and rearing habitat.

In other action, the commission is scheduled to consider management alternatives for bottomfish in Catch Area 4B (western Strait of Juan de Fuca), which are available on the department’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/marinearea4/.

The commission also is scheduled to consider updating its management policy for Columbia River summer chinook salmon to reflect new broodstock needs for the Chief Joseph Hatchery and conservation standards for naturally spawning fish, while providing guidance in allocating the catch between recreational and commercial fisheries.

The commission also is scheduled to consider:

  • Changes in state fishing rules on a variety of issues, including closing fishing for Columbia River smelt (eulachon) statewide. The proposals are available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/.
  • Amendments to commercial bottomfish, forage fish and shellfish fisheries in Puget Sound designed to protect rockfish populations.
  • Updates to the North of Falcon policy, which provides direction to fishery managers in defining annual salmon fishing seasons in Washington’s waters.

In other business, the commission is scheduled to hold public hearings on amendments to rules for buying or selling of game and changes to recreational clam and oyster seasons on Puget Sound beaches.