OLYMPIA - Commercial fishers in Washington state would be able to sell the crab and salmon they catch directly to the public under a new legislative program, the rules for which are being considered by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.
The commission, which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), meets Aug. 2-3 in Aberdeen at the Pearsall Multi-Services Center, 2109 Sumner Ave. Meeting hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.
The Washington State Legislature, during its 2002 session, passed a bill allowing commercial salmon and crab fishers to sell their own catch directly to the public without purchasing a wholesale dealers license, which currently costs $250.
Under the new proposal, commercial fishers could buy a $50 "direct retail" license.
"This new license could be a significant economic advantage for commercial salmon and crab fishers in Washington state," said Morris Barker, WDFW marine resource manager.
Barker said recent depressed wholesale salmon prices for fish caught locally have made it economically unfeasible for some commercial fishers to sell their product to the wholesale dealers, who in turn sell fish at retail prices.
"Coho salmon fishers in the Columbia River had excellent fish for sale last year, but prices offered by wholesale buyers for the fish were so low that fishers couldn't afford to sell their fish," Barker said. "Under this proposed rule, fishers could sell directly to consumers, presumably at a price that would give them some profit."
There are significant health certification requirements for any fisher applying for the new retail license endorsement, including a letter from their county health department certifying them as meeting health standards.
Also, commercial fishers would still be required to complete a "fish receiving ticket" for all salmon or crab harvested before the product is offered for retail sale. Fish tickets are the primary accounting tool used by WDFW to determine commercial harvests.
Other proposed commission agenda items include:
- Reviewing the public safety cougar removal program and considering changes, including moving the deadline for applications from Nov. 1 to Oct. 1 of each year, changing the start date of the permit season from Dec. 16 to Dec. 1 of each year, and requiring all participants in a public safety cougar removal hunt to complete a brief education course;
- Accepting public input and taking action on proposed amendments to the 2002-03 elk special permits;
- Accepting public input and taking action on classifying and controlling aquatic nuisance species rules proposals;
- Accepting public input and considering adoption of ballast water discharge report rules; and
- Accepting public input and considering adoption of amendments to marine protected areas, license reduction programs.
A complete commission agenda can be found on the commission's website http://wdfw.wa.gov/com/meetings.htm on the Internet.