2023 North of Falcon- Coastal Commercial Fisheries

Rule-making status: Permanent

Rule Making Reference# P2023-03
The purpose of this rulemaking is to regulate the commercial salmon fisheries in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor. These rules are part of a comprehensive suite of rulemaking packages to implement the new 2023-2024 salmon seasons for Washington State, developed through the broader North of Falcon process pursuant to the Fish and Wildlife Commission’s North of Falcon Policy C-3608 for 2019-2023 and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), RCW 34.05.

The North of Falcon process typically begins in January with the filing of the Pre-proposal Statement of Inquiry (CR-101) and consists of government-to-government meetings involving the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), treaty tribes, and WDFW representatives. Separate public meetings are held with stakeholders—both at a statewide and regional level—to review preseason run size forecasts, NMFS guidance relative to allowable impacts for species listed under the Endangered Species Act, which includes salmon, but other protected species as well, such as Southern Resident Killer Whales.

Four public stakeholder meetings specific to the Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor fisheries were held in March and April 2023. Additional public comment was accepted subsequent to the Proposed Rule-making (CR-102) for the 2023 Coastal Commercial Salmon Fishery, filed on May 3, 2023 (WSR 23-10-088), including during the public hearing on the proposed rules held on June 8, 2023. The comprehensive North of Falcon meeting schedule and the meeting agendas, handouts, and audio recordings of the public meetings are available on WDFW’s website at: https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/management/north-falcon/public-meetings

While these rules regulate only commercial fisheries, the seasons specified in these rules are an integral part of implementing commercial and recreational fisheries in a coordinated manner pursuant to the Willapa Bay Salmon Management Policy C-3622 and Grays Harbor Basin Salmon Management Policy C-3621. As such, the commercial fisheries for 2023-24 are structured in a manner intended to consider and provide both commercial and recreational fishing opportunities in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor, while ensuring conservation requirements and management objectives in federal and state laws and regulations, state/tribal harvest management agreements, and Fish and Wildlife Commission policies are met.

Even though drafted as amendments to preceding rules, these new amendments function as a coordinated and unitary fishery rulemaking package for the 2023-24 fishery season, and thus substantively replace prior years’ fisheries in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor. Specifically, these rules replace and supersede the language in WAC 220-354-250 for the Willapa Bay salmon fall fishery and WAC 220-354-290 for the Grays Harbor salmon fall fishery in their entirety.
Included in the Fish and Wildlife Commission’s North of Falcon Policy C-3608 for 2019-2023 is a delegation of authority to the Director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to adopt the implementing regulations, including this rulemaking, resulting from the North of Falcon process.

Public comments

To view comments submitted on this proposal, please visit the NoF- Coastal Commercial Fisheries public engagement page.

The public comment period has closed as of June 8, 2023.

Public hearing

June 8, 2023 at 2:00 pm - View the Zoom Webinar Recording

Date of adoption: June 14, 2023

For more information

Staff Contact: Barbara McClellan at Barbara.Mcclellan@dfw.wa.gov

Assistance for Additional Accessibility and Persons with Disabilities Contact:
Title VI/ADA Compliance Coordinator  
Phone: (360) 902-2349, TTY: 1-800-833-6388 OR 711  
Email: Title6@dfw.wa.gov