October 31, 2003
Contact: Bob Gibbons, (360) 902-2329
WDFW taking public comment on 2004-05 sport fishing rules package
OLYMPIA - A package of proposed sportfishing rules for the 2004-05 fishing season is available for public comment.
The proposed rules, which govern the recreational harvest of game fish, food fish and shellfish, will be the focus of a public hearing before the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission during the commission's December 5 and 6 meeting at Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend. The commission is scheduled to vote on adoption or modification of the rules package at its February 6-7 meeting in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building in Olympia.
The rules package, which consists of 104 separate proposals, may be viewed and downloaded from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) website. Printed copies of the proposed rules also may be obtained by contacting the WDFW Fish Program at (360) 902-2700.
Written comments may be submitted during the Dec. 5-6 commission meeting in Port Townsend, or mailed before the meeting to Evan Jacoby, WDFW Rules Coordinator, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia WA 98501-1091, or emailed to Jacoby at email@example.com. Verbal comments may also be presented in person at the Dec. 5-6 commission meeting.
The proposed new rules include:
- Rockfish protection options and lingcod season changes: Two options designed to conserve Puget Sound rockfish, one of which would close boat-based marine bottomfish fisheries and prohibit rockfish retention in shore fisheries in marine areas 5-13 when halibut, lingcod and salmon seasons are not open, as well as closing spear fishing for rockfish. The other would prohibit retention of rockfish either throughout the Sound or in specific areas where rockfish status appears most critical. The proposed lingcod rule, also aimed at protecting rockfish, would delay lingcod seasons in Puget Sound in an effort to reduce the amount of rockfish by-catch in unmonitored fisheries.
- A ban on treble hooks in Marine Areas 1-13: Requiring anglers to use no more than two single hooks in Marine Areas 1-13, except for forage fish jigger gear, in which treble hooks would still be allowed. WDFW made a commitment during the North of Falcon salmon management process to include the proposal in the current regulation development process.
- Catch-and-release rules for salmon and steelhead: The proposal would make it illegal in freshwater areas-except in the Buoy 10 area on the Columbia River-to remove salmon or steelhead from the water, if anglers are required to release the fish. The proposal is aimed at reducing handling stress on released fish.
- Salmon release in Marine Areas 5-13: The proposal would make it illegal to bring on board a vessel any salmon that is required to be released in Marine Areas 5-13. The proposal is aimed at reducing handling stress on released fish.
- Extending the closed area for catch and release fishing on over-sized sturgeon in the Columbia River, and requiring tags for sturgeon: Two separate sturgeon rule proposals, one of which would extend an area of the Columbia River closed May 1 to July 15 to sturgeon fishing from a boat. Under the proposal the closed area, now from Bonneville Dam to Beacon Rock, would be from Bonneville Dam to the eastern tip of Skamania (Prindle) Island. This proposal is designed to provide greater protection for over-sized sturgeon near a primary spawning area. A second proposal is aimed at making it easier to enforce the annual sturgeon limit by requiring anglers to tag retained sturgeon.
- Reducing wild steelhead harvest: Proposed rules would reduce wild steelhead retention on several Olympic Peninsula streams, including Big and Salmon rivers and Kalaloch, Cedar and Mosquito creeks. This proposal is aimed at providing additional protection to wild steelhead on these small streams. In addition, the season on the Quillayute River system is proposed to be reduced by two weeks, closing April 15 instead of April 30. This proposal will provide for consistent closing dates for wild steelhead in north coast rivers.
- Daily hours for shrimp districts: Establishing new daily hours of 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for each open day in Puget Sound shrimp districts. The change is sought due to large increases in the number of fishers participating in the Puget Sound recreational shrimp fishery. The change would increase the precision of WDFW's sport catch estimates and its ability to manage the fishery within established quotas while providing more stability in planned season length.