Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fishery managers have scheduled a variety of opportunities for the public to participate in setting state-managed salmon fishing seasons for 2021, beginning with an annual salmon forecast meeting on Feb. 26.
That meeting is just one of a dozen scheduled virtually as part of each year’s salmon season discussions. State fishery managers will consider input from anglers, commercial fishers and others interested in salmon as they work with tribal co-managers to craft this year’s fisheries.
“Working together alongside tribal co-managers, we remain committed to fostering a cooperative process that engages all those who care about these important species,” said Kelly Susewind, WDFW Director. “Hearing from Washington’s angling community, commercial fishers, and others is critical to this process, especially as we head into what’s looking like another tough year for some salmon runs. Understanding the public’s priorities helps us and the tribes to come to resolution on which sustainable fishing opportunities can be realized while also meeting our conservation objectives.”
“We are committed to cooperative tribal and state salmon co-management because it works,” said Lorraine Loomis, chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. “Our job gets tougher every year because salmon are steadily declining as their habitat is being lost faster than it can be restored. It will take a lot of work to fix that problem, but we all want the same thing: Healthy salmon runs that can provide sustainable harvest for everyone far into the future.”
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 26, WDFW will present initial forecasts derived by WDFW and tribal fisheries biologist analysis. WDFW and tribal forecasters use a suite of scientific data, including watershed sampling and monitoring, ocean indicators, and previous year returns, to predict the number of salmon and steelhead that will return to Northwest waters, and how many fish will be available for harvest.
In addition to attending virtual meetings, other ways the public can participate in the state’s process include:
•Online comments: Starting in early March, the public can provide comments on WDFW’s forecasts and proposed fisheries at: www.wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/management/north-falcon/public-input
•Conference calls and daily briefings: During the final days of negotiations, state fish managers plan to hold briefings each day, which will be available via conference call.
For a full timeline of the state’s North of Falcon process, including a public meeting schedule with opportunities to participate in virtual meetings and provide public feedback, visit WDFW’s North of Falcon public meeting schedule web page.
To support COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, these meetings will be conducted online and be available to the public to watch or listen via webinar or conference call.
This process occurs in tandem with Pacific Fishery Management Council public meetings to establish fishing seasons for salmon in ocean waters 3 to 200 miles off the Pacific coast. The PFMC will discuss preliminary options for ocean fisheries during its March 2-5 and 8-11 meeting and is expected to adopt final ocean fishing seasons and harvest levels at its April 6-9 and 12-15 meeting. More information on these virtual meetings is available on the PFMC’s website.
The collaborative state and tribal salmon season-setting process known as North of Falcon refers to waters north of Oregon’s Cape Falcon, which marks the southern border of Washington’s management of salmon stocks. This includes Puget Sound, Columbia River, and coastal Washington salmon stocks.