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

March 19, 2010
Contact: Heather Reed, (360) 249-1202

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New recreational halibut seasons
reflect lower quota for 2010

OLYMPIA – Anglers will have fewer days to catch halibut this year under recreational fishing seasons announced today by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

The largest single factor affecting this year’s fishery is a 15 percent reduction in the Pacific coast halibut quota set by the International Pacific Halibut Commission, said Michele Culver, a WDFW regional director.

“That reduction will really take a bite out of tribal and state fishing opportunities in Washington and other West Coast states,” Culver said. “This year’s quota reflects a reduction in halibut stocks from Alaska to California.”

This year’s quota for Washington, Oregon and California is 810,000 pounds, down from 950,000 pounds in 2009. In Washington, sport anglers will be allowed to catch 192,699 pounds of halibut compared to 214,110 pounds last year.

Constraints on fishing opportunities will be most apparent in Puget Sound, due to the combination of this year’s reduced quota and an excessive catch last year, Culver said. WDFW estimates that Puget Sound anglers caught more than 114,000 pounds of halibut in 2009 – well over the 57,393-pound quota.

To ensure that the halibut fishery in Puget Sound stays within the quota, the fishing season in most marine areas (6-10) will be delayed until May 1. Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) will retain its traditional opening date just before the Memorial Day weekend but will close earlier than it has in the past.

To offer as many fishing days as possible the number of days open per week has been reduced from five to three in all of Puget Sound.

In addition, marine areas 11 and 13 will be closed to protect rockfish, which may be caught incidentally by anglers fishing for halibut. Three rockfish species in Puget Sound are currently under consideration for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act.

As in previous years, Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal) will remain closed due to low dissolved-oxygen conditions. Portions of marine areas 2, 3 and 4 also will be closed to fishing for halibut and bottomfish to reduce the chance that anglers will unintentionally catch yelloweye rockfish. Retention of canary and yelloweye rockfish is prohibited in all coastal marine areas.

On the Pacific coast, the overall structure of fishing seasons in marine areas 1-4 will remain essentially the same as last year, although the smaller quotas will likely be met earlier in the year.

All Washington waters open to halibut fishing have a one-fish daily catch limit, with no minimum size, and a possession limit of two fish in any form.

The 2010 recreational halibut seasons approved for Washington’s marine areas are:

  • Columbia River (Ilwaco): Marine Area 1 will open May 1, three days a week, Thursday through Saturday until 70 percent of the quota is reached, or until July 18. The fishery will then reopen on Aug. 6 and continue three days a week (Friday through Sunday) until the remaining quota is reached, or Sept. 27, whichever occurs first. The 2010 catch quota is 13,436 pounds.

  • South Coast (Westport/Ocean Shores): Marine Area 2 will open on May 2, two days a week, Sundays and Tuesdays. During the fourth week in May the fishery will be open Sunday only (May 23). Beginning the following week the fishery will resume the Sunday, Tuesday structure until the quota is reached. The northern nearshore area will be open seven days per week, until the quota is reached. The 2010 catch quota is 35,887 pounds.

  • North Coast (La Push/Neah Bay): Marine areas 3 and 4 will open on May 13, two days per week, Thursdays and Saturdays, through May 22. If sufficient quota remains, the fishery will reopen June 3 and 5. If sufficient quota remains after that opener, the fishery will reopen starting June 17. The 2010 catch quota is 101,179 pounds.

  • Strait of Juan de Fuca/Puget Sound: Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) will be open May 28 through June 19. Marine areas 6 through 10 (Strait, Port Angeles Admiralty Inlet and Everett) will be open May 1 through May 30. These fisheries will be open three days a week, Thursday, Friday and Saturday closed Sunday through Wednesday except for Memorial Day weekend when they will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The 2010 combined catch quota for these areas is 50,542 pounds.

For additional information, call the Fishing Hotline at (360) 902-2500 or check the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/creel/halibut/.