600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

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October 31, 2016
Contact: Commission Office, (360) 902-2267

Commission to discuss proposed sportfishing rules,
protective status of 5 wildlife species

OLYMPIA — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will hold a public hearing on proposed changes to sportfishing rules for the saltwater areas of Puget Sound and the Washington coast during its public meeting Nov. 4-5 in Olympia.

The commission also will take public comment on state recommendations to change the listing status for five protected wildlife species in Washington – bald eagles, peregrine falcons, American white pelicans, marbled murrelets, and lynx.

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will convene in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building at 1111 Washington St. SE in Olympia. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. both days.

An agenda for the meeting is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/

WDFW is recommending that 11 sportfishing rule proposals move forward for public comment. The rules are specific to saltwater areas of Puget Sound and the Washington coast.

The changes – which cover fishing seasons, daily limits and other rules – include proposals that would:

  • Require fishing vessels carry a descending device when fishing for bottomfish or halibut in Puget Sound (marine areas east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line). The devices are used to return rockfish to deep water, reducing the number of rockfish deaths due to barotrauma, which occurs when rockfish are brought to the surface quickly.
  • Make it unlawful to possess another person's shellfish or food fish (including halibut, salmon and sturgeon) without written permission while in the field or in transit.
  • Implement a 4 ½-inch minimum size requirement for Tanner crabs harvested in Puget Sound.
  • Prohibit shellfish harvesters from cooking oysters in the shell or using heat to open oysters on public beaches.
  • Allow squid harvest year-round, including the harvest of Humboldt squid, in Hood Canal.

To review proposed rules online, visit WDFW's webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/. The webpage has more information about the proposals as well as those not recommended for further consideration.

In other business, the commission will hold a public hearing on state wildlife managers' recommendations to remove bald eagles and peregrine falcons from Washington's endangered species list and downlist American white pelicans to threatened status from endangered. Wildlife managers are also recommending elevating the protective status of marbled murrelets and lynx to endangered from threatened status.

More information is available on the department's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/endangered/status_review/. Information on Washington's protective listing classifications can be found online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/endangered/status_definitions.html.

The commission also will receive a briefing from a representative of the Georgia-based Quality Deer Management Association about the objectives of the quality deer management philosophy. White-tailed deer populations are managed under this approach in portions of the southern and eastern United States.

In addition, the commission will receive briefings on the Columbia River salmon management policy, the North of Falcon salmon season-setting policy, the Puget Sound Recreational Salmon and Marine Fish Enhancement Program, and federal permits necessary to conduct salmon fisheries in Puget Sound.