ILWACO - Capt. Mike Cenci of the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife Enforcement Division was the invited guest speaker at the Ilwaco Charter Boat Association's first meeting of the 2004 season.
Cenci oversees 13 coastal marine areas from Longview to Blaine with 17 other marine enforcement officers covering both commercial and recreational fisheries. In Ilwaco, Area 1, a total of 81 citations and 67 warnings were issued during the 2003 fishing season, the estimated compliance regarding overall salmon rules was 93.3 percent and the estimated compliance regarding the possession of wild coho was 99 percent.
Cenci's report states that the presence of pink salmon last season complicated fish identification for some people, and undersized Chinook and unmarked coho were sometimes mistaken for this species.
Also, Buoy 10, a terminal fishery that exists at the mouth of the Columbia River, had a more liberal limit for coho salmon at the same time that the Marine Area 1 ocean fishery was underway. This resulted in some anglers exceeding ocean limits with the intent of claiming the extra fish as Columbia River caught.
Cenci also reported the fifth illegal charter boat operation to be caught in the past 20 months. These operators do not pay for guide licenses, insurance, taxes and so forth. They were caught in a "sting" operation by enforcement officers. These operators could be fined up to $25,000 to get their boat back.
The state recognizes a 23 percent kill to released fish.
The handling and release of wild coho was also a point of discussion during the meeting which was attended by 25 members of the ICBA, presided over by president Butch Smith.