The ocean recreational coho and chinook salmon fisheries off the coast of Washington would vary under the ocean fishing options being considered this year by the Pacific Fishery Management Council.
The PFMC establishes fishing seasons in ocean waters three to 200 miles off the U.S. West Coast. The panel includes representatives of state, tribes, the federal government, the fishing industry and other entities. It chose the three sport fishing alternatives during meetings this week in Vancouver, Wash., and will pick a final alternative for the summer fishing season in April.
The alternatives include:
-- Option 1: The recreational salmon fishing season would begin June 4 with a mark-selective fishery for hatchery chinook in marine areas 2 (Westport/Ocean Shores) 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay). In Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco), the season would begin June 11. The selective fishery would run seven days a week, with a daily limit of two salmon, through June 25 or until 12,000 hatchery chinook are retained.
The recreational salmon season would continue June 26 in all coastal areas for chinook and hatchery coho. Anglers would have a daily limit of two salmon. In marine areas 2, 3 and 4, anglers would also be allowed to retain two additional pink salmon.
-- Option 2: The recreational salmon fishing season would begin June 11 with a mark-selective fishery for hatchery chinook in all ocean areas. The fishery would run seven days a week, with a daily limit of two salmon, through June 25 in Marine Area 1 and through June 30 in marine areas 2, 3 and 4 or until 12,000 hatchery chinook are retained.
The recreational salmon season would open for chinook and hatchery coho June 26 in Marine Area 1; July 1 in marine areas 3 and 4; and July 3 in Marine Area 2. Anglers fishing those marine areas would be allowed to retain one chinook as part of a two-salmon daily limit. Anglers also would be allowed one additional pink salmon each day in marine areas 2, 3 and 4.
-- Option 3: Recreational salmon fisheries would begin with mark-selective fisheries for hatchery chinook and hatchery coho. Those fisheries would get under way June 24 in marine areas 3 and 4; June 26 in Marine Area 2; and July 3 in Marine Area 1. Wild chinook retention would be allowed beginning in late July.
Meanwhile, ocean anglers will be able to pursue chinook salmon on Oregon’s central coast starting March 15.
“The Sacramento fall chinook salmon, which have been a major limiting stock on the ocean salmon seasons over the past few seasons, are forecast to be at near average abundance this year and will allow for much more fishing opportunity during the 2011 season,” said Eric Schindler, ocean salmon project leader for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Fishing for all salmon except coho will be open from March 15 to April 30 from Cape Falcon just north of Manzanita to Humbug Mountain near Port Orford as scheduled, he said. Anglers fishing out of Tillamook Bay are reminded that only adipose fin-clipped chinook salmon may be retained when fishing inside Tillamook Bay and offshore waters within the 15-fathom depth contour between Twin Rocks and Pyramid Rock.
West Coast fishery managers are still working on other decisions about salmon seasons off the Oregon coast.
“The commercial chinook salmon fishery south of Cape Falcon scheduled to open on March 15 has been delayed until April 15 under in-season action,” Schindler said. “This season will run from April 15 through 30 in the area from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain.”
The area from Humbug Mountain to the Oregon-California border will remain closed during March and April. Seasons after April 30 are being developed at this time, he said.
More details on these ocean options, including proposed fishing days per week, are available on PFMC’s website at http://www.pcouncil.org/
Chinook and coho quotas approved by the PFMC will be part of a comprehensive Washington 2011 salmon fishing package, which includes marine and freshwater fisheries throughout Puget Sound, the Columbia River and Washington’s coastal areas. State and tribal co-managers are currently developing those fisheries.
The co-managers will complete the final 2011 salmon fisheries package in conjunction with the PFMC process during its April meeting.
Public meetings are scheduled in March to discuss regional fisheries issues. A public hearing on the three options for ocean salmon fisheries is scheduled for March 28 in Westport.
Fishery managers will consider input from the regional discussions during the “North of Falcon” process, which involves planning for fishing seasons in Washington’s waters. Two public North of Falcon meetings are scheduled for March 15 in Olympia and April 5 in Lynnwood. Both meetings will begin at 9 a.m.
More information about the salmon-season setting process, as well as a schedule of public meetings and salmon run-size forecasts, can be found on WDFW’s North of Falcon website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/