OLYMPIA– Designation of several underwater sanctuaries to protect marine fish species will be among the items facing the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in its meeting here Monday (March 25).
The all-day meeting gets under way at 8 a.m. in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. SE., in Olympia.
The commission is scheduled to consider creation of new marine protected areas at Keystone, Scatchet Head and Admiralty Head, all off Whidbey Island, and at Zee's Reef off Fox Island. Additionally, creation of a marine conservation area at Rosario Beach on San Juan Island is proposed. The commission also will consider changing the designation of Sund Rock on Hood Canal from a marine protected area to a marine conservation area.
The marine protected area designation allows limited fishing activity, while the conservation area designation means all fishing is prohibited. The protected areas are being proposed because populations of Puget Sound rockfish and other marine fish species are declining. The declines are believed to stem from past over-harvest by non-tribal commercial and recreational fishers.
Public comment was taken on the proposed marine sanctuary designations at the commission's December and February meetings. No further public testimony will be taken at Monday's meeting.
Other items on the commission's agenda include:
- Proposed amendments to Puget Sound commercial fishing rules affecting bottomfish, dogfish, and herring anchovy and smelt fishing. The proposals were continued from the commission's February meeting, and no further public testimony will be taken.
- A briefing from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) staff on the status of special trapping permit requests and other issues associated with last year's implementation of a voter initiative banning the use of body-gripping traps.
- Authorize property acquisitions funded by the Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation (IAC) of nearly 1,368 acres of sage and sharptail grouse habitat in Douglas County and purchase of 30 acres of salmon habitat in Chelan County.
- A briefing on a department review of livestock grazing on WDFW lands and consideration of a proposed grazing lease for the Texas Creek Wildlife Area.
- A briefing on the status of a proposed North Puget Sound crab abundance study to evaluate the feasibility of a commercial crab fishery.
- A briefing on the status of the proposed limited entry program for the Washington sardine fishery.
A complete copy of the preliminary commission meeting agenda is available on the WDFW website on the Internet.