OLYMPIA – People with ideas about how to improve state sportfishing rules in the Columbia River Basin can submit their proposals to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) through May 30.
State fish managers will consider proposed rules submitted by the public for any fish species except salmon, so long as they apply specifically to the mainstem Columbia River, its tributaries, or lakes within the basin.
People can propose a fishing rule change online at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/ or obtain a submission form by calling (360) 902-2700.
This year’s focus on a specific geographical area – the Columbia River Basin – marks a change from WDFW’s past practice of considering fishing rules proposed for waters anywhere in the state each year.
Craig Burley, WDFW fish program manager, said the department will consider only those public proposals affecting fisheries in the Columbia River Basin this year. However, under the new process, WDFW will focus on proposals for freshwater fisheries in Puget Sound and coastal areas in 2015, then saltwater fisheries in 2016, Burley said.
“This approach will allow fishery managers and the public to focus on specific proposals and their potential effects in specific watersheds,” he said. “That’s difficult to do if you’re looking at hundreds of proposals affecting waters all over the state.”
The new process was recently approved by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, a citizen panel that sets policy for WDFW and also has the final word on which fishing rules are adopted into the state’s administrative code.
Sportfishing rule changes developed through this process will be available for public review and comment in August.
The commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposed rule changes in November, and take final action on the 2014-15 sportfishing rule changes at a public meeting in December.