Category: Species Management Plans
Published: July 22, 2013
Eleven species of sea ducks commonly occur in western Washington, including scoters (surf, white-winged, black), long-tailed duck, harlequin duck, goldeneyes (common, Barrowâ€™s), bufflehead, and mergansers (common, red-breasted, hooded). Sea ducks are game species, managed under state and federal migratory waterfowl regulations cooperatively through the Pacific Flyway Council. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has improved monitoring of Puget Sound sea duck populations as part of the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program (PSEMP) since 1991. Long-term declines in wintering numbers of scoters and limited populations of harlequin and long-tailed ducks have lead to more conservative regulations in Washington than provided by federal frameworks. In addition to improving surveys to document status and trends, WDFW has also completed specific management studies and upgraded harvest monitoring programs for these species over the past 15 years.
WDFW presented a summary of sea duck management activities to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission (Commission) in August 2007. At that time, the scoter population had been relatively stable for the previous 6 years, and an evaluation of scoter harvest management indicated that current overall harvest rates in Puget Sound were within sustainable levels. WDFW proposed additional banding and monitoring of scoters and other sea ducks over a three year period, with an evaluation report planned for presentation to the Commission in 2010. After considering the report findings, the Commission implemented the recommended harvest management options that included establishment of criteria for making regulation changes. Another three-year evaluation was scheduled for 2013. The results of these evaluations are summarized in the report.