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

May 15, 2006
Contact: Michele Culver, (360) 249-1211

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Halibut fishery will close off Westport

OLYMPIA - The recreational halibut fishery in the ocean waters off Westport will close May 17 after a season of exceptionally good fishing, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has announced.

Since opening to fishing May 1, this year's halibut season in Marine Area 2 has been notable for a combination of large fish and high catch rates, said Phil Anderson, special assistant to WDFW Director Jeff Koenings. For that reason, he said, anglers are expected to reach this year's 53,952-pound harvest quota for Marine Area 2 in record time.

"The average halibut caught off Westport weighed around 34 pounds - the largest on record - and just about everybody who went halibut fishing caught a fish," Anderson said. "The quota goes pretty fast with that kind of fishing."

The average halibut caught in that area last year weighed about 26 pounds, he said.

Although the halibut fishery in Marine Area 2 will close May 17 at 11:59 p.m., fishing for lingcod, rockfish and other bottomfish will remain open. A 30-fathom depth restriction is in place for those fisheries through June 15 to protect yelloweye and canary rockfish.

Once halibut fishing has ended in the area, WDFW will assess the catch to determine if any additional fishing opportunities are possible under the quota, Anderson said. Meanwhile, halibut fishing will remain open in other marine waters off the Washington coast until catch quotas are reached in those areas.