OLYMPIA - The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will hold a meeting Aug. 28 in Bremerton to hear public testimony on the statewide moratorium on wild steelhead retention enacted earlier this year.
The public hearing is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Kitsap Conference Center, 100 Washington Ave., in Bremerton.
Commission Chair Will Roehl said the citizen panel scheduled the hearing after the City of Forks and hundreds of individual anglers asked that commissioners reconsider the two-year moratorium they adopted in February.
Roehl said the hearing will provide an opportunity for members of the public to comment on whether the moratorium on wild steelhead retention should be rescinded, amended or retained in its current form. Commissioners will consider those comments along with written testimony when they discuss the future of the wild-steelhead moratorium during a conference call Sept. 2, he said.
"Right now, all options are open," Roehl said. "Given the amount of interest we've seen in this issue, we decided to open it back up for public discussion before considering any future actions."
Roehl said the commission, which sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, has received hundreds of calls and letters - both pro and con - since adopting the moratorium on wild steelhead retention at its Feb. 6 meeting.
The moratorium, which took effect May 1 and runs through March 31, 2006, requires anglers to release any steelhead that is not marked as a hatchery fish by a missing adipose or ventral fin and a healed scar. Since retention of wild steelhead was already prohibited on most rivers in Washington, only about a dozen rivers - most of them on the Olympic Peninsula - were affected by the moratorium.
The commission will consider written comments on the statewide moratorium submitted through Aug. 26. Comments should be addressed to Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia WA 98501-1091 or sent via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org