Washington Seeks Enter on Ocean Salmon Regs

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OLYMPIA – Fisheries managers have developed options for the Washington salmon fishery that reflect the need to minimize the impact on the low forecasted abundance of coho stocks on the coast while providing an opportunity to access the large forecast for the Columbia River Coho.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC), which brings together tribal, federal and state agencies to determine fishing seasons in marine waters three to 200 miles off the Pacific coast, today approved three options for pollock fisheries for public scrutiny. These ocean options will help educate other Washington salmon fisheries as the seasonal adjustment process continues.

“Options are set with quotas tailored to the conservation needs of the coastal Coho and Puget Sound Chinook stocks, while still giving anglers access to more abundant stocks in marine areas,” said Kyle Adicks, director of the Salmon Fisheries Policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “The conservation of weak and weak natural stocks will continue to affect the development of the salmon season this year.”

The options for 2021 include the following quotas for state recreational fishing off the coast of Washington:

Option 1: 28,000 Chinooks and 75,200 marked Coho. This option includes Chinook fishing in all areas in the early season in June, followed by Chinook fishing and Tagged Coho fishing for the remainder of the summer.

  • Westport, La Push and Neah Bay (Marine Areas 2, 3 and 4): June 19-July 3 Chinook fisheries, July 4-September 30 Chinook and tagged Coho fisheries.
  • Columbia River Area (Marine Area 1): June 14-27 Chinook fisheries, June 28th to September 30th Chinook and tagged Coho fisheries.

Option 2: 25,000 Chinooks and 95,600 marked Koho. This option allocates a higher portion of the Koho quota to the Columbia River area.

  • La Push and Neah Bay (marine areas 3 and 4): Chinook fisheries June 19-25, June 26th to September 30th Chinook and tagged coho fisheries.
  • Columbia River Area and Westport (Marine Areas 1 and 2): June 19-26 Chinook fisheries only, June 27th to September 30th Chinook and tagged Coho fisheries.

Option 3: This option would close all marine areas to salmon fishing. Queets and other coastal rivers are expected to have poor natural koho yields this year. Queets River Coho has been the subject of a rebuilding plan due to the low inhibition for several years and is expected to return below its inhibition floor in 2021.

The daily limits and days you can fish each week vary between areas and options. Last year, the PFMC set 26,360 Chinook and 26,500 Coho deep-sea fishing quotas for the Washington coast

Fisheries managers use public feedback on the various options to negotiate a final season between states and tribes represented at the PFMC, which seldom reflects a particular original option but is refined to accommodate the preferences shared by the public.

In each of these scenarios, the department monitors the number of salmon caught by recreational anglers and may close earlier than the above dates if quotas are met. For more information about the options, see the PFMC website at pcouncil.org. A public hearing on the alternatives will take place on Tuesday, March 23rd at 7:00 p.m. Visit the PFMC website for more information.

The Chinook and Coho quotas and seasons approved by the PFMC will be part of a comprehensive salmon fisheries package for 2021 that will include marine and freshwater fisheries across Washington. State and tribal co-managers are currently developing fishing proposals in the Puget Sound and Columbia River. State and tribal co-managers will finalize the 2021 Temporary Salmon Fisheries Package in partnership with PFMC at their April 6-9 and April 12-15 meeting.

Several additional public meetings are planned in March and April to discuss the regional salmon fishery. In addition to participating in virtual meetings, the public can also participate in the state process:

  • Online comments: The public can comment on the fisheries proposed by WDFW at the following address: wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/management/north-falcon/public-input.
  • Conference calls and daily briefings: In the final days of the negotiation, the state fish managers plan briefings which will be available via conference call or recording after the briefing.

For a complete overview of the state’s North of Falcon process, including a public meeting schedule with the ability to attend virtual meetings and provide public feedback, visit the WDFW’s North of Falcon Public Meeting Schedule website. In support of COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, these meetings are held online and are available to the public to watch or listen to via webinar or conference call.
Known as the North of Falcon, the collaborative process of establishing the state and tribal salmon season refers to waters north of Oregon’s Cape Falcon, which marks the southern limit of Washington’s salmon stock management.

The Washington Department for Fish and Wildlife is the primary government agency charged with conserving, protecting, and preserving fish, wildlife, and ecosystems while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreational opportunities.

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