SACRAMENTO – Anglers on the Washington coast could see an increase in catch quotas for coho salmon this year, but chinook harvest guidelines will be significantly lower than those in effect last season, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Three ocean salmon-fishing options adopted today by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) reflect slightly stronger hatchery coho returns to the lower Columbia River and a commitment to meet conservation objectives for all wild stocks, said Phil Anderson, special assistant to WDFW Director Jeff Koenings.
The options also take into account lower returns of hatchery chinook salmon to Washington’s waters, and the need to limit fishing pressure on weak salmon stocks listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), he said.
The PFMC, which establishes fishing seasons in ocean water three to 200 miles off the Pacific coast, last year adopted recreational ocean fishing quotas of 31,000 chinook and 73,200 coho salmon. This year’s recreational ocean options are:
- 17,875 chinook and 117,600 coho;
- 16,250 chinook and 100,800 coho; and
- 11,200 chinook and 67,200 coho.
The PFMC is expected to adopt ocean fishing harvest levels from among those options, as well as season starting dates, at its April 2-6 meeting in SeaTac.
Anderson said the earliest starting date proposed for all coastal chinook and coho recreational fisheries is July 1.
“We are also considering proposals that would adjust salmon bag limits and the number of days open per week to try and provide anglers a full summer of fishing in the ocean,” said Anderson, who represents WDFW on the management council.
Chinook and coho quotas approved by the PFMC will be part of an overall 2007 salmon fishing package, which includes marine and freshwater fisheries throughout Puget Sound, the Columbia River and Washington’s coastal areas. State and tribal co-managers are currently developing those fisheries.
The co-managers will complete the final 2007 salmon fisheries package in conjunction with the PFMC process during its April meeting.
Meanwhile, public meetings are scheduled this month to discuss regional fisheries issues. Fishery managers will consider input from these regional discussions during the “North of Falcon” process, which involves planning for the numerous fishing seasons in Washington’s waters.
Two public North of Falcon meetings are scheduled for March 13 at the Community Center in Lacey and March 27 at the Lynwood Embassy Suites. Both meetings will begin at 9 a.m.
More information about the salmon-season setting process, and a schedule of public meetings, can be found on WDFW’s North of Falcon website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/northfalcon/).