OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has scheduled a March 30 public meeting in Lynnwood to continue developing preliminary proposals for 2006 salmon fisheries.
The meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. at the Lynnwood Embassy Suites Hotel, 20610 44th Ave. W., is part of the “North of Falcon” public salmon season-setting process, and is one of the last opportunities for citizens to comment on this year’s proposed salmon-fishing seasons before the final harvest plan is established in early April.
Included in the development of the fisheries plan are ocean salmon-fishing options, adopted earlier this month by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC), which sets harvest quotas in waters three to 200 miles offshore. This year’s options for recreational fishing in 2006 are:
- 17,500 chinook and 42,000 coho;
- 25,000 chinook and 67,200 coho; and
- 32,500 chinook and 92,400 coho.
All three proposed ocean options are lower than last year’s recreational fishing quotas, which were set at 43,250 chinook salmon and 121,800 coho.
“Those lower ocean options reflect our need to meet state and federal conservation objectives for weak wild chinook and coho salmon stocks,” said Phil Anderson, special assistant to WDFW Director Jeff Koenings. “That will require some additional fishing restrictions in the Columbia River and along the coast this year.”
The additional ocean restrictions are necessary to protect Columbia River wild chinook and coho, listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), and limit the harvest of coho returning to British Columbia’s Thompson River, Anderson said.
In Puget Sound, fisheries will once again be managed to protect wild salmon stocks listed under the federal ESA, Anderson said.
The PFMC will adopt final sport, commercial and tribal ocean-fishing quotas when the federal panel meets April 3-7 in Sacramento, Calif. At the same time, the state and tribal co-managers will finalize the fishing package for nearshore coastal, Puget Sound and Columbia River waters.
Fishery managers generally refer to the salmon season-setting process as North of Falcon. The name refers to Cape Falcon in northern Oregon, which marks the southern border of active management for Washington salmon stocks.
More information about the salmon season-setting process, including salmon forecasts, can be found on the North of Falcon website.