The proposed changes to the rules governing recreational fisheries for game fish, food fish, and shellfish for the 2004-2005 Fishing season comprise 52 pages of material. There are large number of proposals because this regulation cycle is what they term a "major cycle."

Some of the proposals originated from WDFW staff, while others came from the general public, who have taken interest in the regulation change process and outside agencies.

The public hearing for the proposed rule changes will be held during the Fish & Wildlife Commission Meeting on Dec. 5 and 6 in Port Townsend. No public testimony will be heard after this meeting, so it is imperative that if you support the issues that will have a local impact, send a note to Evan Jacoby, WDFW Rules Coordinator at 600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA. 98501 prior to Dec. 5.

These are proposals that would have an impact on the Lower Columbia:

• Proposal 70 Columbia River Sturgeon Fishery

Currently fishing for sturgeon from a floating device is closed from Beacon Rock to Bonneville Dam May 1 - July 15. This proposal would extend this closure to be from a north-south line through the eastern tip of Skamania (Prindle) Island to Bonneville Dam from May 1-July 31.

Explanation: Fishing in this area is basically a catch and release fishery for oversized sturgeon. This proposal is intended to limit that activity and provide more protection for these long-lived fish. These fish are subject to tremendous stress while being caught, which can inhibit their breeding capabilities.

• Proposal 15 Columbia River Crab Pot Season

Proposal: Change the crab pot season in the Columbia River to year round.

Explanation: Crab are not soft shelled during the current closed season (Sept. 16-Nov. 30). Oregon allows pot-fishing year-round, and most of the winter crabbing areas are in Oregon. Keeping our (Washington) rules consistent with those in Oregon whenever possible in concurrent waters makes enforcement easier and makes the rules easier for the public to understand.

• Proposal 16 Crabbing from the Columbia River North Jetty

Proposal: When crabbing from the Columbia River North Jetty, the Dungeness crab daily limit would be 12 males, minimum size 5 3/4 inches.

Explanation: This proposal allows Columbia River. North Jetty crabbers the same daily limit and minimum size for Dungeness crab as those fishing in the adjacent Columbia River Area from boats.

• Proposal 17 Columbia River Mouth Definition for Crab Fishery

For the Dungeness crab fishery, the Columbia River is defined as upstream of a line extending from the tip of the North Jetty to the exposed tip of the South Jetty.

Explanation: The Buoy 10 line (which currently defines the mouth of the Columbia River) runs through the middle of the most popular crabbing area. For Washington crabbers, the Dungeness crab rules are different on the ocean side (daily limit 6 males, 6-inch minimum size).

Oregon allows 12 males, 5 3/4 inches minimum size both upstream and downstream of the Buoy 10 line. This results in an area in the river downstream of the Buoy 10 line, on the Washington side only, that has different rules for Dungeness crab. This proposed rule would standardize the rules for both states making it less confusing for anglers, and making enforcement of the rules easier.

You may reply to the above address or e-mail your response on the WDFW Web site

-Summarized by Ron Malast

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