Kelly Cunningham, 360-902-2325
OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking public comments on proposed rules that would require that fishing guides regularly report their fishing activities.
Under the proposed rules, fishing guides would provide WDFW with information such as the date and location of each guided fishing trip, the number of anglers onboard, and the number and type of fish species caught per trip.
Currently, WDFW relies on individual anglers to report their catch information but does not have a means of tracking whether the activity was part of a guided fishing trip, said Kelly Cunningham, deputy assistant director for WDFW's Fish Program.
"This information will help us understand the role the guide industry plays not only in terms of helping recreational anglers to access fisheries, but also in providing economic benefits to local and state economies," Cunningham said. "We also have heard concerns about issues such as over-crowding and will use the information to understand if and where this is happening."
Draft rules are posted for public review on the department's website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/commercial/guide-logbook. WDFW will accept public comments submitted through 5 p.m., June 7, on that website, by email to Rules.Coordinator@dfw.wa.gov, or by postal mail to Scott Bird, WDFW Rules Coordinator, 600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091.
Cunningham noted the agency held more than a dozen meetings with fishing guides around the state to discuss guiding activities and requiring guides to record essential information about each trip.
"We're working with fishing guides to develop a reporting mechanism that works for them and provides the agency with timely information that will help us manage fisheries," Cunningham said.
The department initiated a review of the guiding industry following a directive from the state Legislature in 2017. The stated objectives were to:
- Improve the fishing experience and ensure equitable opportunity for both guided and non-guided river anglers,
- Manage fishing pressure to protect wild steelhead and other species; and
- Ensure that recreational fish guiding remains a sustainable economic contributor to rural economies.
In 2018, the Legislature gave the department the OK to require fishing guides to report trip information.
WDFW staff will present their proposal to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission at its April 5-6 meeting in Olympia. The commission is scheduled to take public comment on the proposal at its June 14-15 meeting in Port Angeles before making a decision during the Aug. 2-3 meeting.
Details about those commission meetings will be posted online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/commission.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the primary state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish and wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities.