Starting Thursday, March 4, and continuing through April 11 a series of 12 meetings will take place at various locations ranging from Lynnwood to Sacramento, Calif., that will determine the fisheries covering the Pacific Ocean and the Columbia River.

These meetings will cover a broad spectrum including the salmon abundance forecast (Chinook and coho), management objectives and preliminary fishing opportunities for 2008, catch quotas for commercial, sport and Indian fisheries.

In addition, the PMFC (Pacific fishery Management Council) will be held in Sacramento on March 4-14, 2008. It will address groundfish, Pacific halibut and highly migratory species like tuna.

Some notable findings include the canary rockfish rebuilding is very much ahead of schedule (by 42 years). These changes are probably due to our lack understanding of stock productivity and the current level of depletion.

At the Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting April 6-11, the PMFC adopts final ocean fishing regulations and plans are finalized for all inside area commercial and sport salmon fisheries.

Sardines The 2007 Pacific sardine assessment indicates a significant decline in the stock, and led the council to recommend lowest stock harvest since the onset of sardine harvest management in 2000. The principle reason for this decline in sardine numbers is a decrease in productivity as measured in an annual survey of egg production and spawning success of the California coast.

Fishermen, spotter plane pilots and industry representatives testified that their own observations of Pacific sardines during the 2007 fishery indicated they were not in decline.

HalibutThe Washington South Coast Sport Fishery will retain the opening date of May 1. In 2009, rules specify that the season will open the first Sunday following May 1. It will be open two days per week, Sunday and Tuesday. Fisheries managers claim that this would provide an opportunity for more anglers to fish.

SmeltThe smelt run appears to have backed down to the estuary in response to the cold river temperatures. No commercial landings were reported last week. WDFW survey crews observed just a couple of seals in the Columbia River near Longview and none in the Cowlitz river. The WDFW test dipping on Jan. 1 produced no catch.

Did You Know?Deepest Oceans and Seas (average depth in meters): Pacific Ocean 3,939, Indian Ocean 3,840, Atlantic Ocean 3,575, Caribbean Sea 2,575, Sea of Japan 1,666.

Countries with the most billionaires: America 269, Japan 29, Germany 28, Italy 17, Canada 16, Switzerland 15, France 15.

Countries with the most airports: United States 14,695, Brasil 3,365, Russia 2,743, Mexico 1,852, Canada 1,419, Argentina 1,369.

Ron Malast is skipper of the charter boat Big Dipper operating out of Sea Sport Fishing Charters in Ilwaco, 665-3573.

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