Sports

Salmon fisheries agreement set

State and tribal co-managers this week agreed on a package of salmon fisheries that meets conservation goals for wild salmon populations, while providing a variety of fishing opportunities on abundant stocks.

Washington’s 2011 salmon fishing seasons, developed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and treaty Indian co-managers, were finalized during the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (PFMC) meeting in San Mateo, Calif. The fishing package defines regulations for salmon fisheries in Puget Sound, Washington’s ocean and coastal areas and the Columbia River.

“Salmon fisheries developed for this year meet conservation objectives for wild salmon while providing meaningful fishing opportunities throughout Washington’s waters,” said Phil Anderson, director of WDFW. “Developing these fisheries wouldn’t be possible without strong cooperation between the state, the tribes and our constituents.”

While state and tribal fishers will have a variety of salmon-fishing opportunities this year, many fisheries will be constrained to protect wild salmon listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.

“Conservative fisheries must go hand-in-hand with habitat restoration and protection so that we can continue toward our goal of salmon recovery,” said Lorraine Loomis, fisheries manager for the Swinomish Tribe. “State and tribal cooperation is the key to addressing one of the most pressing needs of salmon – more high quality spawning and rearing habitat.”

As in past years, recreational salmon fisheries in 2011 will vary by area. In Puget Sound anglers will have an opportunity to take advantage of an abundant return of pink salmon this year. Nearly 6 million pink salmon are expected to return to Puget Sound, where “bonus” bag limits for pink salmon will be established in marine areas 5 through 11. The majority of pink salmon – the smallest of the Pacific salmon species – return to Washington’s waters in odd-numbered years.

Most chinook and coho fisheries will be similar to last year’s seasons. However, the sport fishery for chinook in inner Elliott Bay will be closed to protect Green River naturally spawning chinook, which are expected to return in low numbers this year. Also, salmon fisheries on the Skokomish River have not yet been settled and state and tribal co-managers plan to continue negotiations over the

Specific fishing seasons and regulations for marine areas in Washington and a portion of the Columbia River will be available next week on WDFW’s North of Falcon website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/.

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