WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

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June 26, 1998
Contact: Jeff Weathersby, (360) 902-2256

Commission to consider salmon fishing season changes

OLYMPIA -- The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday (June 30) to review options that would implement Gov. Gary Locke's agreement in principle with Canada to conserve Puget Sound wild chinook and Canadian wild coho salmon.

The public meeting will be held at the WestCoast Silverdale Hotel in Silverdale. The meeting is being held at 6:30 p.m. to accommodate the public.

The commission is scheduled to consider changing 1998 salmon fishing seasons after public testimony.

WDFW will present a range of options that would reduce the Washington catch of coho salmon returning to British Columbia's Thompson River by 22 percent.

In exchange, Canada has agreed to fishing restrictions that would allow approximately 4,000 additional Puget Sound wild chinook to return to Washington waters. Another 10,000 hatchery chinook would return to Puget Sound because of the Canadian restrictions.

The agreement also would mean:

  • The governments of Canada and Washington would become actively involved in salmon negotiations
  • Canada would provide timely information about its salmon harvest plans as the Washington salmon season setting process, known as North of Falcon, is under way
  • Canada will help implement selective fisheries which allow fishers to harvest fin-clipped hatchery fish and release wild fish
For this year's salmon seasons, WDFW's preferred option to be presented to the commission on Tuesday would feature:
  • Release of all coho taken by commercial purse seine and reef net fishers
  • A reduction in commercial gillnet fishing in the San Juan Island and Point Roberts areas
  • For sport fishers, season restrictions, bag limit reductions and selective fisheries (keeping only adipose-fin clipped hatchery coho) in the Neah Bay, Sekiu, Port Angeles and San Juan Islands areas
The commission also will take public comment on the upcoming sockeye salmon fishing season that is scheduled to begin in July.

In other business, the commission will review a recent appellate court decision that clears the way for WDFW to implement regulations designed to protect sea birds from entanglement in commercial gillnets.