SEATAC – Meeting state and federal conservation objectives for wild chinook and coho salmon stocks will require additional restrictions in Washington coastal fisheries this year, 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 the need to protect Columbia River wild chinook and coho, listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), said Phil Anderson, WDFW special assistant to the director. Those options also meet our commitment to limit the harvest of coho returning to British Columbia’s Thompson River, he said.
“Conservation of wild salmon stocks is paramount,” said Anderson. “Restricting salmon fishing along the coast and in the Columbia River is a necessary step toward protecting the long-term health of wild salmon.”
Anderson said the options also take into account significantly smaller hatchery chinook returns to Columbia River’s Spring Creek and lower river hatcheries – salmon runs that have traditionally been the backbone of the recreational ocean chinook fishery.
The proposed ocean options are lower than last year’s recreational fishing quotas, which allowed the harvest of 43,250 chinook salmon and 121,800 coho. This year’s proposed ocean recreational fishing options are:
- 17,500 chinook and 42,000 coho;
- 25,000 chinook and 67,200 coho; and
- 32,500 chinook and 92,400 coho.
The PFMC is expected to adopt the final ocean fishing harvest levels at its April 3-7 meeting in Sacramento, Calif. Those chinook and coho quotas approved by the PFMC will be part of an overall 2006 salmon fisheries package currently being developed by state and tribal co-managers.
While additional restrictions will be in place on the coast and in the Columbia River, salmon fisheries for anglers in Puget Sound are still being developed, said Anderson.
“Puget Sound salmon fisheries will reflect WDFW’s commitment to protecting wild salmon stocks listed under the federal ESA,” Anderson said.
Public meetings have been scheduled throughout March to discuss regional fisheries issues. Input from these regional discussions will be considered as the season-setting process moves into the “North of Falcon” and April PFMC meetings, which will determine the final 2006 salmon seasons.
Columbia River fisheries issues will be discussed March 13 at the Vancouver Water Resources Education Center, 4600 SE Columbia Way, Vancouver, Wash. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.
Two public North of Falcon meetings, which involve planning for numerous salmon fishing seasons on Washington’s waters – including Puget Sound – are scheduled for March 15 and March 30. Both meetings will be at the Lynnwood Embassy Suites Hotel and are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on both days.
The final 2006 salmon fisheries package for Washington’s inside waters will be completed by the state and tribal co-managers during the PFMC’s April meeting.
More information about the salmon season-setting process, including salmon forecasts, can be found on the North of Falcon website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/northfalcon/).