OLYMPIA - The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has scheduled a public meeting March 29 in Lynnwood to continue development of this year's comprehensive salmon-fishing package.
The meeting, which begins at 9 a.m. at the Embassy Suites Hotel, 20610 44th Ave. W. in Lynnwood, will be the final opportunity for citizen input on proposed salmon seasons before the federal Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) meets in early April to establish catch quotas for chinook and coho salmon in waters three to 200 miles offshore.
Earlier this month the PFMC adopted a range of ocean salmon-fishing options for summer fisheries. The council's proposed ocean recreational fishing options for 2005 are:
- 30,000 chinook and 75,600 coho;
- 37,500 chinook and 105,000 coho; and
- 45,000 chinook and 134,400 coho.
Recreational fishing quotas in 2004 were 44,500 chinook and 202,500 coho. Two of three chinook options for this summer are similar to last year's fishing opportunity, but coastal coho quotas under consideration are dramatically lower than 2004.
At the same time, state and tribal fisheries managers are closing in on a comprehensive package of salmon fishing regulations that will define recreational opportunities from May 1 of this year through April 30, 2006, in nearshore coastal, Columbia River and Puget Sound waters.
At a March 16 meeting in Olympia, WDFW staff heard from recreational anglers about their preferences for Puget Sound fishing rules that would provide access to an expected large return of pink salmon, as well as a good return of coho salmon to the Sound.
Fisheries managers say the need to protect Endangered Species Act-listed chinook salmon from mid-Hood Canal streams and the Snohomish and Puyallup rivers will most likely require more fishing restrictions this year in Puget Sound than were in place last year.
The PFMC will adopt final sport, commercial and treaty Indian ocean-fishing quotas when the federal panel meets April 4-8 in Tacoma.
WDFW has also scheduled a March 23 public meeting to discuss Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor fisheries issues at the South Bend Community Center. Fishing restrictions are expected in those areas because returns of chinook to Grays Harbor streams are forecast below the number of fish needed for spawning goals.
Preseason salmon forecasts, proposed fishing options and details on upcoming public meetings are available on the North of Falcon portion of WDFW's website on the Internet.