OLYMPIA - The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider changes to Puget Sound shrimp fishery management policies when it meets Feb. 7-8 in Longview.
The commission, which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will also consider a number of minor amendments to 2003-04 sportfishing rules, including a proposal to eliminate the annual limit on hatchery-reared steelhead.
The new shrimp policy proposes to maintain a strong conservation foundation for management of shrimp resources, as well as sharing between recreational and commercial harvest groups, while maintaining exclusive recreational harvest areas in Hood Canal and in portions of Port Angeles and Discovery bays.
Proposed revisions to the policy would give quantitative allocation for both recreational and commercial harvest groups for all regions of Puget Sound. The current policy includes both general and region-specific policy objectives.
Increased participation in the recreational shrimp fishery has led to a significant decline in the number of days fisheries are open each year. Recreational shrimpers in much of Puget Sound had fisheries lasting half a year now face seasons of just a few days in some areas.
The commission is expected to act on a number of other proposals, including:
- The policy for the 2003-04 "North of Falcon" salmon season-setting process;
- New rules governing official hunting hours for game birds and game animals;
- New boundary descriptions for some Game Management Units;
- New rules governing dogfish shark management, commercial herring fishing in coastal areas and commercial pink shrimp fishing in coastal areas; and
- An amendment to rules governing commercial fishing in Puget Sound that would reduce the minimum mesh size for Puget Sound salmon purse seines from four inches to three and one-half inches.
The commission will also consider a proposal to adopt new rules that would prohibit possession, transporting and landing of Pollock caught in the Pacific Ocean into Washington state waters. Whiting and coastal groundfish fishers would still be allowed to land some Pollock in addition to their targeted catch under the proposed rules. The prohibition will allow WDFW to conduct an experimental Pollock fishery this summer so that the agency can develop harvest guidelines for possible directed Pollock fisheries in the future.
The commission will meet in the Cowlitz County PUD Auditorium, 961 12th Ave. in Longview. Sessions begin at 9 a.m. each morning. A complete agenda can be seen on the Fish and Wildlife Commission's web page on the Internet.