OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has scheduled two public meetings to discuss the future direction of the Puget Sound Recreational Fishery Enhancement program, which includes the production of blackmouth chinook salmon.
The meetings are scheduled for:
- July 21 – From 7-9 p.m. in Room 175 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. S.E., Olympia.
- July 22 – From 7-9 p.m. at the WDFW Mill Creek Office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd., Mill Creek.
Key responsibilities of the fishery enhancement program include production of delayed-release chinook salmon, known as blackmouth, and research on factors that limit marine bottomfish populations and methods to raise marine bottomfish in hatcheries.
Blackmouth are hatchery-reared chinook salmon that are held in freshwater longer than they naturally would remain, reducing their tendency to migrate out of Puget Sound. Their name comes from the black gum line of the fish.
Production of blackmouth and other fishery-enhancement initiatives within the program, which was mandated by the state Legislature in 1993, are intended to improve fishing opportunities in Puget Sound, said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW’s Puget Sound salmon manager. A citizen oversight committee was established in 2003 to advise the department on the program.
Earlier this year, the state auditor’s office released a performance audit that recommended revising the annual production goal for blackmouth. The audit is available at http://www.sao.wa.gov/AuditReports/AuditReportFiles/ar1003365.pdf.
“We have started the process of developing recommendations to lawmakers on how to improve the fishery enhancement program,” Thiesfeld said. “We’ve had discussions with the program’s citizen oversight committee, and now we would also like to discuss with the public potential changes to the program, particularly blackmouth production goals and the general scope of the program.”
The program is funded through a portion of revenue generated by the sale of recreational fishing licenses. The annual funding level is based on the number of licensed anglers fishing in Puget Sound and for salmon in Lake Washington.