State and tribal co-managers participating in the Pacific Fishery Management Council process on Wednesday agreed on a package of salmon commercial and recreational fisheries for this spring and summer off the coasts of Oregon, Washington and California.
Washington's 2011 salmon fishing seasons, developed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and treaty Indian co-managers, were finalized during the PFMC’s 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:
Despite an expected increase in chinook abundance, the PFMC adopted a chinook catch quota for the area from Cape Falcon on the north Oregon coast up to the Canadian border of 33,700 for the recreational ocean fishery, 27,300 less than last year's quota. The lower chinook quota is necessary to further protect wild salmon stocks and meet conservation goals, said Anderson, who represents WDFW on the management council.
"The chinook quota is down from last year, but the number of fish available for this summer's ocean fishery should still provide good fishing opportunities for anglers," Anderson said. The PFMC also adopted a quota of 67,200 coho for this year's recreational ocean fishery, the same number as last year's quota.
This year's ocean fishery will begin June 18 with a mark-selective fishery for hatchery chinook from Cape Falcon to the Canadian border. The fishery will run seven days a week, with a daily limit of two salmon, through June 25 or until 4,800 hatchery chinook are retained. Recreational ocean salmon fisheries for chinook and hatchery coho will continue June 26 in marine areas 1, 2, 3 and 4. Anglers fishing those marine areas will be allowed to retain one chinook as part of a two-salmon daily limit. Anglers also are allowed one additional pink salmon each day in marine areas 3 and 4.
The Buoy 10 fishery will be open for chinook and hatchery coho Aug. 1-28. Anglers will have a two-salmon daily limit, only one of which may be a chinook. From Aug. 29 through Dec. 31, anglers will have a daily limit of two hatchery coho, but must release chinook.
The mainstem Columbia River from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to Bonneville Dam will be open for chinook and hatchery coho Aug. 1 through Dec. 31. Anglers will be allowed to retain one adult chinook as part of their two-fish daily bag limit through Sept. 9. Beginning Sept. 10, chinook retention will only be allowed upstream of the Lewis River, but up to two adult chinook may be retained.
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 next several weeks.
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/ .