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

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March 25, 1997
Contact: Jeff Weathersby (360) 902-2256

Fish and Wildlife Commission workshop set for Friday, Saturday

OLYMPIA -- The state Wild Salmonid Policy, protection of sea creatures, the 1997 salmon fishing season processes, elk and deer hunting permit quotas and draft goals for the Department of Fish and Wildlife are among the key issues to be reviewed by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in a w the draft policy during a tour of the state and encouraged public review and feedback.

Under the plan, the department spells out its own preferred course of action to rescue the salmon runs, including the creation statewide of local watershed councils. The councils would work with the Department of Fish and Wildlife and other state agencies to determine habitat and other goals needed to protect and perpetuate fish runs.

The department's draft policy also calls for the agency to set strict limits on wild fish harvests, mark hatchery fish so they can readily be identified from wild ones, and refrain from planting hatchery fish where they could have a significant impact on wild runs.

The agency's preferred course of action is only one of a number of alternatives presented in a draft environmental impact statement, which is called the Wild Salmonid Policy. Salmonids include salmon, grayling, trout, char and whitefish.

"Wild salmon are in crisis. We have talked about troubled fish runs in Washington state for years. All the compromises have been made and wild salmon continue their downward spiral," Shanks said. "Wild salmon have been here thousands of years. They are a heritage as well as a resource. The only ethical response is to shift this agency's focus to their recovery."

The plan will undergo public scrutiny at 10 meetings scheduled across the state in April and May. After considering public input, some version of the plan will be adopted by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, the nine-member citizens panel that determines department policy.

"It's clear that all of us, from the cities around Puget Sound, to the rancher in eastern Washington to the comme