OLYMPIA - The Washington Fish and Wildlife commission approved rule changes for mineral prospecting activities and heard public comments on proposed sportfishing rules during a public meeting here Nov. 7-8.
The commission, which sets policy for Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), approved new amendments to state regulations governing mineral prospecting, an activity that can potentially affect fish habitat.
Adopted changes include establishing new work times designed to protect fish life, offering additional opportunities for prospectors and expanding the use of certain types of mineral prospecting equipment. The rules, which were developed with input from a 17-member workgroup and the public, become effective April 3, 2009 and are available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hab/goldfish/mineral_prospect.htm. A new Gold and Fish pamphlet reflecting the changes will be available by that date.
As a follow-up, WDFW staff will continue to work with mineral prospectors on understanding and implementing the new rules and also will provide a status update to the commission in November 2009.
In other business, the commission heard public comments on new fishing rules proposed by WDFW and the public for the fishing season that begins May 1, 2009. Those proposals, ranging from a new anti-snagging rule to one that would prohibit using live aquatic animals for bait in freshwater, are available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/.
The commission is scheduled to vote on a final sportfishing rules package in February 2009.
In other action, the commission approved land transactions in Columbia, Garfield, Grays Harbor, Snohomish and Kittitas counties. The commission also confirmed its 2009 meeting calendar. The majority of next year’s meetings will take place in Olympia to reduce travel-related costs. The commission also is considering the use of video conferencing to enable public participation at the meetings.
The commission also received staff briefings on:
- The potential benefits of implementing barbless hook rules and selective gear restrictions in sport fisheries on the Columbia River to reduce impacts on protected salmon.
- Updates to the department’s Wind Power Guidelines.
- The status of WDFW’s tourism efforts, including tourism-related partnerships with other state agencies.
- Proposed amendments to wildlife rehabilitation rules that would update facility standards for oiled-bird rehabilitation activities.
- The status of the lower Columbia River sturgeon management policy.
- The legal requirements and process for removing (delisting) wildlife from endangered, threatened or sensitive species lists.