FISHING – State and tribal leaders today reached an agreement on Puget Sound fisheries that is expected to pave the way toward opening summer salmon seasons and waters recently closed to recreational fishing.
Here are details, such as they are at this time, from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The co-managers agreed on this year's Puget Sound salmon seasons after several weeks of extended negotiations. Anticipated low numbers of salmon – especially coho – returning to Puget Sound made this year's negotiations challenging.
Agreement on fishing seasons is a key step in obtaining a joint federal permit required to conduct fisheries in Puget Sound waters, where some fish stocks are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) closed many Puget Sound-area waters to fishing on May 1, after the previous federal authorization to conduct fisheries expired.
"We plan to re-open those waters as soon as we have federal approval," said John Long, salmon fisheries policy lead for WDFW. "We anticipate getting the new permit within a few weeks."
More information on the fisheries that closed May 1 is available on the department's website.
In the meantime, anglers can begin making plans to fish for salmon this summer in Puget Sound-area waters, where most of those fisheries will target hatchery chinook. Salmon fisheries throughout the Puget Sound area will be constrained to protect coho salmon and other weak salmon stocks, Long said.
"Conservation is key in developing these fisheries, especially in a year with such low returns expected back to the Sound," Long said. "We worked hard to meet those conservation needs and provide fisheries that are meaningful for both state and tribal fishers."
Changes in Puget Sound salmon fisheries since last summer can be found on WDFW's website, where information on Washington's salmon fisheries in ocean waters and the Columbia River also is available. Some of those changes include:
- Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) will be open from July 16 to Aug. 15, or when the quota of 1,395 fish is met. The area was closed last summer to chinook retention. Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) will be open on the same dates as Marine Area 10, but also could close sooner if the quota of 3,056 fish is met.
- There will be no coho fisheries in marine areas of Puget Sound, with the exception of Hood Canal, where sufficient coho are forecast to return.
- WDFW is closing some rivers and marine areas to all salmon fishing during September and October, the peak months for coho salmon to return to Puget Sound. Rivers slated for closures include the Skagit, Stillaguamish and Nisqually. Lakes Washington and Sammamish also will be closed to fishing during those months.
- The lower mainstem of the Skokomish River will be closed to non-tribal fishing this year due to a claim by the tribe that the river is part of the Skokomish Reservation and public access is prohibited. WDFW is working to evaluate this claim. The closed area includes the section of river from the Tacoma Public Utilities power lines (near the mouth of the river) upstream to the Bonneville Power Administration power lines (upstream and west of Highway 101). The department advises anglers to observe this closure of the state's fishery that will be monitored by WDFW police.
More details on salmon seasons in Puget Sound and other areas of Washington will be available on WDFW's website later this month.
For information on tribal fisheries, contact the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.