WDFW solicits comments on rockfish

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is accepting public comments on the scope and direction of a new management plan currently being developed for Puget Sound rockfish.

The management plan, scheduled for completion in early 2009, will provide a framework for new strategies in areas including fisheries, enforcement, monitoring and education to conserve and restore rockfish populations in Puget Sound.

To lay the groundwork for this plan, WDFW has filed notice of its intent to develop an environmental impact statement (EIS) under the State Environmental Policy Act.

Written comments on this “scoping” notice will be accepted through June 18. Comments should be addressed to SEPA/NEPA Coordinator, Regulatory Services Section, WDFW Habitat Program, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501.

A copy of the scoping notice is posted at / Written copies may be obtained by calling 360-902-2700.

Within the framework established by the plan, state fisheries managers plan to develop management strategies for Puget Sound rockfish. Several species of rockfish currently are being considered for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Ilwaco halibut fishing to close

The WDFW announced the recreational halibut fishing off Ilwaco will close at the end of the day Sunday, June 1.

Fishing ends at 11:59 p.m. June 1, by which time anglers are expected to reach the 13,133-pound quota for the primary season in Marine Area 1, said Heather Reed, coastal policy coordinator.

The area has been open to halibut fishing seven days a week since May 1. Following the closure, the fishery will reopen for a late season Aug. 1, three days a week, Friday through Sunday, until the remaining quota is taken.

Reed reminds anglers that no other bottom fish may be taken, retained, possessed or landed, except sablefish and Pacific cod, if halibut are onboard the vessel.

Meanwhile, halibut fishing remains open two days a week, Sundays and Tuesdays, in Marine Area 2 off Westport. Fishing is also open five days a week, Thursday through Monday, in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and all other areas of Puget Sound except Hood Canal.

Halibut fishing in Marine areas 3 and 4 will be open today, May 31, at all depths. The fishery in those two areas is scheduled to reopen June 17 and 19 with fishing restricted to the nearshore area and Marine Area 4B on those days, as specified in WDFW’s 2008-09 fishing rules pamphlet.

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