OLYMPIA– Decisions on 2000-2001 sports fishing rules, proposed establishment of new Puget Sound marine sanctuaries to protect bottomfish and adoption of policies to allocate Puget Sound crab and shrimp among recreational and commercial users will be among the decisions facing the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in its regular meeting Feb. 4 and 5 in Anacortes.
The meeting convenes at 1:30 p.m. Friday in the Council Chambers of the Anacortes Municipal Building, at 6th Street and Q Avenue. Friday's session is scheduled to conclude at 6:30 p.m. and the meeting will reconvene at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 5, with a scheduled 1:30 p.m. adjournment.
On Friday's agenda, the commission will consider adoption of a package of sportfish rules for the 2000-2001 season including:
- Establishment of Puget Sound marine conservation areas or preserves to provide a haven for bottom fish stocks such as rockfish and lingcod which have declined in recent years. The proposed marine sanctuaries include Sund Rock on Hood Canal, Orchard Rocks in Rich Passage, Colvos Passage and near the outlet of Waketickeh Creek in Hood Canal. Several of those areas would be closed to all fishing, but salmon trolling would be allowed in the Colvos preserve, under current proposals.
- Fishing closures in a number of rivers and streams in Northcentral Washington to respond to federal protection requirements for upper Columbia steelhead, bull trout and spring chinook. Some whitefish harvest would be allowed with strict restrictions on hook sizes to avoid harming other protected fish species.
- Increases in the wild steelhead bag limit on rivers in the Quillayute system because of strong recent steelhead returns that are two to three times above the level needed to sustain the population. The proposal calls for upping the limit from five fish per year to two per day.
- Summer fishing closures on Echo, Serene and Stickney lakes in King County because of problems with the behavior of users of WDFW access sites in the area.
On Feb. 5 the commission will consider adoption of revised policy proposals governing Puget Sound crab and shrimp fishing. The policies address allocation of non- tribal commercial and recreational opportunity in various regions of the sound.
In other action over the two-day meeting the commission is expected to:
- Give policy guidance to WDFW staff for the department's participation in the North of Falcon planning process and associated Pacific Fishery Management Council deliberations through which ocean and Puget Sound salmon fishing seasons are set
- Consider extending the WDFW director's rule-making authority in ocean waters inside the three-mile limit and in the outer Strait of Juan de Fuca
- Hear a briefing from WDFW fishery managers on the impact of commercial trawling activity in Puget Sound
- Hear a status report from WDFW staff on proposed Columbia River dredging and channel deepening.
- Amend commercial shellfish harvest log book requirements to ensure accurate harvest reporting of shrimp, sea urchins and sea cucumber
- Be briefed on the feasibility of establishing a commercial ocean fishery for forage fish such as sardines
For a complete copy of the meeting agenda check the commission's meeting calendar in the Fish And Wildlife Commission section of the WDFW website.