ILWACO State and tribal co-managers on Wednesday agreed on a package of salmon fisheries that meets conservation goals for wild salmon populations and provides fishing opportunities on healthy stocks.
Washingtons 2013 salmon fishing seasons, developed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and treaty tribal co-managers, were finalized April 10 during the Pacific Fishery Management Councils (PFMC) meeting in Portland. The regulations cover salmon fisheries in Puget Sound, Washingtons ocean and coastal areas and the Columbia River.
In developing salmon seasons, the first priority for state and tribal fishery managers is to meet conservation goals for wild salmon, said Phil Anderson, WDFW director.
This comprehensive package of salmon fisheries is consistent with ongoing efforts to protect and rebuild wild salmon stocks, Anderson said. Meeting those goals is key to ensuring the long-term sustainability of Washingtons salmon fisheries, which are important to the economy of many communities throughout the state.
Conservative harvest management by the tribes and state is making a substantial contribution to the recovery of wild salmon, but protecting and restoring salmon habitat is essential to rebuilding these populations, said Lorraine Loomis, fisheries manager for the Swinomish Tribe.
Salmon habitat continues to be lost and damaged at an alarming rate, and this trend shows no signs of improvement, Loomis said. Every year it is increasingly difficult to develop fisheries that meet the needs of Indian and non-Indian fishermen while still protecting weak wild stocks. Conservative fisheries, such as those developed for this year, must go hand-in-hand with protecting and restoring habitat to return salmon to abundance.
As in past years, recreational salmon fisheries in 2013 will vary by area:
Columbia River: The Buoy 10 fishery will be open from Aug. 1 through Dec. 31. The fishery will be open for Chinook and hatchery coho Aug. 1 through Sept. 1 and Oct. 1 through Dec. 31. From Aug. 1 through Sept. 1, anglers will have a daily limit of two salmon, only one of which may be a Chinook. From Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, anglers can keep six fish, only two of which can be adults, and only one of which can be an adult Chinook. From Sept. 2 through Sept. 30, anglers will have a daily limit of two hatchery coho, but must release Chinook.
The mainstem Columbia River from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to Bonneville Dam will be open for Chinook and hatchery coho Aug. 1 through Dec. 31. Anglers will be allowed to retain one adult Chinook as part of their two-adult daily limit. From Sept. 6 through Sept. 30, Chinook retention will be prohibited downstream of the Lewis River, except anglers will be allowed to retain hatchery Chinook from Sept. 6 through Sept. 12 from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to Warrior Rock. Beginning Oct. 1, one adult Chinook may be retained throughout the lower river, from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to Bonneville Dam.
The sockeye and hatchery summer Chinook fishery on the mainstem Columbia River below Bonneville Dam will be open from June 16-June 30, with a daily limit of two adult salmon or steelhead, or one of each.
Fishery managers also implemented a permanent rule requiring anglers to use barbless hooks when fishing for salmon and steelhead on the Columbia River and most of its tributaries.
Washingtons ocean waters: The PFMC on April 10 approved a recreational Chinook catch quota of 48,000 fish, slightly lower than last years quota of 51,500. The PFMC, which establishes fishing seasons in ocean waters three to 200 miles off the Pacific coast, also adopted a quota of 74,760 coho for this years recreational ocean fishery, about 5,000 fish higher than last years quota.
The recreational salmon fishing season in marine areas 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay) will begin with two short openings for hatchery Chinook, May 10-11 and May 17-18. The mark-selective fishery for hatchery Chinook in those two marine areas will then reopen June 22 and run seven days a week through June 28. Mark selective fisheries for hatchery Chinook will be open seven days a week June 8-June 22 in Marine Area 2 (Westport/Ocean Shores) and June 8-June 21 in Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco). In all areas, anglers will have a daily limit of two salmon, except anglers must release coho and wild Chinook. The fisheries could close earlier if a coastwide quota of 8,000 hatchery Chinook is reached.
Recreational ocean salmon fisheries for Chinook and hatchery coho will continue June 22 in Marine Area 1, June 23 in Marine Area 2 and June 29 in marine areas 3 and 4. Anglers will have a daily limit of two salmon in marine areas 3 and 4. Those fishing marine areas 1 and 2 also will have a two-salmon daily limit, but can keep only one Chinook per day. The fishery will be open daily in marine areas 1, 3 and 4, while Marine Area 2 will be open Sunday through Thursday. Anglers also will be allowed to retain two additional pink salmon in marine areas 3 and 4.
Coastal bays and rivers: Another year of strong wild coho returns should provide good fishing in many of Washingtons coastal streams, including the Queets and Quillayute rivers, as well as those flowing into Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay.
One change this year will allow recreational anglers exclusive access to salmon in the prime fishing area of Willapa Bay (Marine Area 2-1). Waters off Tokeland in the northcentral portion of the bay known as 2T will be open for recreational salmon fishing only from 6 p.m. Aug. 15 through 6 p.m. Sept. 15.
Anglers fishing in Willapa Bay also will be allowed to use two fishing poles, with the purchase of a two-pole endorsement, from Aug. 1 through Jan. 31.
Puget Sound: Anglers will have an opportunity to take advantage of an abundant return of pink salmon this year. More than 6 million pink salmon are expected to return to Puget Sound, where bonus bag limits for pink salmon will be established in all marine areas, except Hood Canal. The majority of pink salmon the smallest of the Pacific salmon species return to Washingtons waters in odd-numbered years.
Most Chinook and coho fisheries will be similar to last years seasons, although this years mark-selective fishery for hatchery Chinook on the Skykomish River is scheduled June 1 through July 31. Last year the fishery didnt open until mid-July.
Salmon fisheries on the Skokomish and Puyallup rivers have not yet been settled and state and tribal co-managers plan to continue negotiations over the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, the forecast for sockeye returning to Baker Lake is strong enough to allow a fishery there this year beginning July 10. However, the run size is not expected to be high enough to open the Skagit River for sockeye fishing this year.
Specific fishing seasons and regulations for marine areas in Washington and a portion of the Columbia River will be available in the next couple of weeks on WDFWs North of Falcon website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/.