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State sets salmon seasons
"The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has performed its annual balancing act for salmon fishing. ^The DFW, which finalized the seasons last Friday in Portland, says it hopes there will be enough opportunities to please sport fishing anglers, commercial fishermen and tribal fishers while ensuring that wild salmon are protected.^On the other hand, local sports fishermen say they believe the seasons still favor commercial fishermen and tribal fishers.^ Of major interest to Whidbey fishermen are Marine Areas 9, 6, 8-1, 7, and 8-2. All areas are currently closed to sports fishermen. Area 7, which is the San Juan Islands, opens July 1. Area 6, which is the east Strait of Juan de Fuca toward Whidbey, is closed until Aug. 1. Areas 8-1 and 8-2, and the popular Area 9, are closed until September. The seasons pretty much mirror last year's seasons.^It's pretty disheartening, said Roger Weber, president of Oak Harbor's chapter of the Puget Sound Anglers. I really believe recreation fishing is on its way out. I feel it's been mismanaged and that the commercials have gone too far on their harvest. It's not that we got too small of a share of the pie; it's that there isn't enough pie to go around anymore.^The fishing seasons were set after a lengthy public process that began in February. The Pacific Fishery Management Council set ocean fishing seasons while state and tribal co-managers set the seasons for Puget Sound and other state waters.^Kevin Petersen, manager of sporting good at Oak Harbor's Ace Hardware, is cautious about the new regulations.^I'd like to say I'm an optimist, but I'm really pessimistic, Petersen said. I want to have a decent season. Inherently, when the season is going good, that's when the state shuts it down.^Petersen said he understands that the state has a tough job to make everyone happy.^They have to cater to a whole bunch of entities, Petersen said.^Like many sports fishermen, Petersen is unhappy that tribes still can put nets in the river.^I want to see salmon fishing forever. I realize something needs to be done. The state needs to take action, he said. It's my opinion that the first step is to get the nets out of the rivers. The state wants to see as many fish returned in the rivers. It's discouraging when we have to let them go, when tribes have nets in every river.^Dundee Woods, manager of Deception Pass Marina, says the seasons look like business as usual.^ I just hope there are some good fish runs, he said. We've got everything stocked up. We're hoping for a good season. We hope to see our customers return.^However, the state wildlife department expects Puget Sound coho stocks to be just 45 percent of last year's preseason forecast. All wild coho stocks are expected to return at low levels as well.^Phil Anderson, the DFW's chief of intergovernmental affairs, said We worked very hard to find ways to keep sport, commercial and tribal fishers on the water while meeting our responsibilities under the law and as good stewards to protect weak wild stocks.^Anderson emphasized that harvests expected in 2000 are consistent with broader salmon recovery efforts, set out in Gov. Gary Locke's Extinction Is Not An Option plan. The plan addresses key factors limiting salmon recovery such as the degraded condition of many state rivers that result in the premature death of millions of young salmon before they reach salt water. ^The DFW official also said the agency worked closely with the National Marine Fisheries Service, which administers the federal Endangered Species Act, to ensure adequate protection for listed stocks, such as Puget Sound chinook. The service is expected to formally approve this year's fisheries that focus on hatchery fish and ensure recovery of threatened stocks. ^Through efficiencies, we've been able to maximize seasons and opportunities while significantly reducing the catch of weak stocks, Anderson said.^^^Here's a look at the seasons and regulations in the local areas:^Marine Area 6 (East Strait Juan de Fuca) and Marine Area 5 (Sekiu and Pillar Point): May 1-July 31, closed; Aug. 1-Sept. 30, two salmon, release chinook, chum and wild coho; closed to boat fishing three-quarters of a mile of the mainland shoreline and within three-quarters of a mile of the Whidbey Island shore in August. Shore fishing will be permitted in August; Oct. 1-Oct. 31, open only in Dungeness Bay for a daily limit of two coho; Nov. 1-Nov. 30, two salmon, of which one may be chinook at least 22 inches in length, daily limit, release all coho; Dec. 1-Feb. 15 (2001), closed; Feb. 16-April 10 (2001), one salmon daily limit, chinook must be at least 22 inches; April 11-April 30 (2001), closed.^Marine Area 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island, Skagit Bay, north half of Saratoga Passage): May 1-Aug. 31, closed; Sept. 1-Oct. 31, two salmon daily limit, release chinook; Nov. 1-Nov. 30, two salmon, of which one may be chinook at least 22 inches in length, daily limit; Dec. 1-Feb. 15, closed; Feb. 16-April 10, one salmon, daily limit, chinook at least 22 inches in length; April 11-April 30 (2001), closed.^Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands): May 1-June 30, closed; July 1-July 31, two salmon daily limit of which one may be chinook at least 22 inches in length; Rosario Straight, eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca and Bellingham Bay (including Samish Bay), closed; Aug. 1-Sept. 30, two salmon of which one may be a chinook at least 22 inches in length; southern Rosario and eastern Juan de Fuca straits and Samish Bay closed; Bellingham Bay closed through Aug. 15; Aug. 16-Oct. 31, two salmon daily limit, release chinook; Samish Bay closed through Oct. 15; Nov. 1-Nov. 30, two salmon, of which one may be chinook at least 22 inches in length, daily limit; Dec. 1-Feb. 15 (2001), closed; Feb. 16-April 10, daily limit one salmon, chinook at least 22 inches in length; April 11-April 30, closed.^Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet): May 1, Aug. 31: closed; Sept. 1-Sept. 15, two salmon daily limit, release chum and chinook; Sept. 16-Sept. 30, closed; Oct. 1-Oct. 31, two salmon daily limit; release chinook; Nov. 1-Nov. 30, two salmon, one of which may be a chinook at least 22 inches in length, daily limit; Dec. 1-Feb. 15, closed; Feb. 16-April 10 (2001): one salmon daily limit; chinook must be at least 22 inches in length; April 11-April 30 (2001), closed; Edmonds Public Fishing Pier, two salmon, of which one may be a chinook at least 22 inches in length, daily limit all year; Hood Canal Bridge Fishing Pontoon, May 1-June 30, two salmon, of which one may be chinook at least 22 inches in length, closed July 1-Aug. 31; Sept. 1-April 30, two salmon daily limit of which one may be a chinook at least 22 inches in length; release chum Sept. 1-Sept. 30.^Area 8-2 (Everett, Mukilteo, south half of Saratoga Passage): May 1-Sept. 15, closed; Sept. 16-Oct. 31, two-salmon daily limit, chinook must be released; July 7-Sept. 30, Tulalip Bay open only from 12:01 a.m. Friday through 11:59 p.m. Monday of each week, two salmon of which one may be chinook at least 22 inches in length, daily limit; Nov. 1-Feb. 15, closed; Feb. 16-April 10 (2001), one salmon daily, chinook at least 22 inches.^"