Wednesday, July 30, 2014

State and tribal co-managers yesterday agreed on a package of salmon fisheries that, according to the State, meets conservation goals for wild salmon populations and provides fishing opportunities on healthy stocks.

Washington's 2013 salmon fishing seasons, developed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and treaty tribal co-managers, were finalized yesterday during the Pacific Fishery Management Council's (PFMC) meeting in Portland. The regulations cover salmon fisheries in Puget Sound, Washington's ocean and coastal areas and the Columbia River.

In developing salmon seasons, the first priority for state and tribal fishery managers is to meet conservation goals for wild salmon, said Phil Anderson, WDFW director.

"This comprehensive package of salmon fisheries is consistent with ongoing efforts to protect and rebuild wild salmon stocks," Anderson said. "Meeting those goals is key to ensuring the long-term sustainability of Washington's salmon fisheries, which are important to the economy of many communities throughout the state."

Conservative harvest management by the tribes and state is making a substantial contribution to the recovery of wild salmon, but protecting and restoring salmon habitat is essential to rebuilding these populations, said Lorraine Loomis, fisheries manager for the Swinomish Tribe.

"Salmon habitat continues to be lost and damaged at an alarming rate, and this trend shows no signs of improvement," Loomis said. "Every year it is increasingly difficult to develop fisheries that meet the needs of Indian and non-Indian fishermen while still protecting weak wild stocks. Conservative fisheries, such as those developed for this year, must go hand-in-hand with protecting and restoring habitat to return salmon to abundance."

As in past years, recreational salmon fisheries in 2013 will vary by area:

Columbia River: The Buoy 10 fishery will be open from Aug. 1 through Dec. 31. The fishery will be open for chinook and hatchery coho Aug. 1 through Sept. 1 and Oct. 1 through Dec. 31.  From Aug. 1 through Sept. 1, anglers will have a daily limit of two salmon, only one of which may be a chinook.  From Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, anglers can keep six fish, only two of which can be adults, and only one of which can be an adult chinook. From Sept. 2 through Sept. 30, anglers will have a daily limit of two hatchery coho, but must release chinook.

The mainstem Columbia River from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to Bonneville Dam will be open for chinook and hatchery coho Aug. 1 through Dec. 31. Anglers will be allowed to retain one adult chinook as part of their two-adult daily limit. From Sept. 6 through Sept. 30, chinook retention will be prohibited downstream of the Lewis River, except anglers will be allowed to retain hatchery chinook from Sept. 6 through Sept. 12 from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to Warrior Rock. Beginning Oct. 1, one adult chinook may be retained throughout the lower river, from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to Bonneville Dam.

The sockeye and hatchery summer chinook fishery on the mainstem Columbia River below Bonneville Dam will be open from June 16-June 30, with a daily limit of two adult salmon or steelhead, or one of each.

Fishery managers also implemented a permanent rule requiring anglers to use barbless hooks when fishing for salmon and steelhead on the Columbia River and most of its tributaries.

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