Department of Fish and Wildlife
600 Capitol Way North,
Olympia, WA 98501-1091
Kyle Adicks, (360) 902-2664
NWIFC contact: Tony Meyer, (360) 528-4325, cell (360) 951-9341
managers consider closing ocean salmon
seasons due to projected poor coho returns
Poor forecasts for returning coho salmon are prompting state and tribal fishery
managers to consider closing all salmon fisheries in Washington’s ocean waters
this year as part of a federal season-setting process for the west coast.
tribal and federal fishery managers have developed three options for non-treaty
ocean salmon fisheries that reflect the anticipated low coho returns. Two
options would permit some salmon fishing this year, but one would close
recreational and commercial ocean fisheries for chinook and coho salmon.
alternatives were approved Sunday for public review by the Pacific Fishery
Management Council (PFMC), which establishes fishing seasons in ocean waters
three to 200 miles off the Pacific coast. A public hearing on the three
alternatives for ocean salmon fisheries is scheduled for March 28 in Westport.
Unsworth, director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW),
said he hopes fishery managers can provide some ocean salmon fishing opportunities
this year, but must place a higher priority on protecting the diminished number
of wild coho expected to return this year.
managers face many difficult decisions in the weeks ahead as we move toward
solidifying salmon-fishing seasons for the state,” Unsworth said. “We know that
severely limiting opportunities will hurt many families and communities that
depend on these fisheries. But conserving wild salmon is our top priority and
is in the best interest of future generations of Washingtonians.”
Loomis, chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, said tribal and
state co-managers must have a full range of options – including no fishing at
all – in working to shape possible fisheries over the next month.
“We hope it
doesn’t come to that. Our cultures, treaty rights and economies depend on
salmon. But the resource must come first,” she said. “We face an extraordinary
conservation challenge this year. In many instances returns will likely be far
below minimum levels needed to produce the next generation of salmon.
Conservation must be our sole focus as we work to rebuild these stocks.”
coho quotas approved by the PFMC will be part of a comprehensive 2016 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, which will be
finalized at the PFMC’s April meeting in Vancouver, Wash.
non-treaty recreational fishing alternatives include the following quotas for
fisheries off the Washington coast:
1: 58,600 chinook and 37,800
coho. This option includes early season fisheries, from June 18-30, for
hatchery chinook in Washington’s ocean waters (marine areas 1-4). This
option also allows hatchery coho retention in all four marine areas during
the traditional summer fishery.
2: 30,000 chinook and
14,700 coho. This option does not include early season fisheries for
hatchery chinook, but provides summer chinook fisheries in all four marine
areas. Hatchery coho fishing would be allowed only in Marine Area 1
3: No commercial or recreational
salmon fisheries in Washington’s ocean waters.
details about the options, visit the PFMC webpage at http://www.pcouncil.org/. Last year, the
PFMC adopted recreational ocean fishing quotas of 64,000 chinook and 150,800
forecasters expect 380,000 Columbia River hatchery coho to return to the
Washington coast, which is about half of last year’s forecast. Only 242,000 coho
actually returned last year to the Columbia River, where some coho stocks are
listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.
conditions, such as the Pacific Ocean “blob” and warmer water temperatures,
contributed to last year’s lower than expected return of coho.
robust return of Columbia River fall chinook salmon is expected back this year,
including about 223,000 lower river hatchery fish, which traditionally have
been the backbone of the recreational ocean chinook fishery.
to the March 28 public hearing, several other meetings will take place later
this month and in early April to discuss regional fisheries issues. The public
can comment on the proposed ocean alternatives as well as on other proposed
salmon fisheries through WDFW's North of Falcon webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/
A schedule of public meetings, as
well as salmon run-size forecasts and more information about the salmon-season
setting process can also be found on the webpage.
Posted on Mon, March 14, 2016
by Dave Hamilton