600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

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March 05, 2015
Contact: Steve Thiesfeld, (360) 249-1201

WDFW seeks comments on revised draft policy
for Willapa Bay salmon fisheries

OLYMPIA - State fisheries managers are seeking public comments through March 26 on a revised draft policy to improve salmon management for Willapa Bay.

The revised draft policy includes new provisions proposed by the public to conserve wild salmon runs, clarify catch allocation, and reduce conflicts between sport and commercial fishers in Willapa Bay.

The policy is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/willapa_bay_salmon/. Written comments on the draft policy may be submitted via email to willapabay@dfw.wa.gov or by mail to Steve Thiesfeld, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091.

Public input on the initial draft was instrumental in crafting the revised options to address conservation and fishery objectives for Willapa Bay salmon fisheries, said Steve Thiesfeld, regional fish program manager for WDFW.

"We're focused on conserving and restoring the salmon runs for Willapa Bay while still providing fishing opportunities," Thiesfeld said.

WDFW staff members will provide a briefing on the updated options for Willapa Bay to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission at its April meeting. The commission is tentatively scheduled to hold a public hearing on the revised policy Thursday, April 9 in Tumwater. The committee, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for WDFW, could take action on the policy this summer.

Information about upcoming commission meetings can be found online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/.

Key principles of the draft Willapa Bay salmon management policy include:

  • Promoting the conservation and restoration of salmon and steelhead by working with partners, such as the Regional Fishery Enhancement Groups, to protect and restore habitat productivity, implement hatchery reform, and manage fisheries consistent with conservation objectives.
  • Developing fishing opportunities that are fairly distributed across fishing areas and reflect the diverse interests of fishers.
  • Structuring recreational and WDFW-managed commercial fisheries to minimize conflicts between the two gear types.
  • Seeking to enhance the overall economic well-being and stability of Willapa Bay fisheries.
  • Ensuring salmon management is timely, well documented, transparent, well communicated, and accountable.

At its April meeting, the commission will provide guidance to WDFW staff on how to develop the 2015 Willapa Bay salmon fishing season. Salmon fishing seasons are set during a process called North of Falcon, which involves representatives from federal, state and tribal governments and the recreational and commercial fishing industries. The salmon season setting process takes place in March and April each year.

More information about the North of Falcon process is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/.