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PFMC release recreational ocean fishing options

Post by Jeff Mayor / The News Tribune on March 12, 2009 at 4:48 pm |
March 12, 2009 4:48 pm

Ocean anglers should see an increase in catch quotas for coho salmon this summer while fishing opportunities for chinook will likely be similar to last year. That was the assessment just released by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Three ocean salmon-fishing options were adopted earlier today by the Pacific Fishery Management Council, based on a strong run of coho to the Columbia River and the Washington coast, along with the need to protect wild salmon stocks.

The council sets fishing seasons in ocean water three to 200 miles off the Pacific coast. Last year the recreational ocean fishing quotas were 20,000 chinook and 20,350 coho salmon.

This year’s recreational ocean options are:

Option 1 – 38,000 chinook and 189,000 coho

Option 2 – 22,500 chinook and 189,000 coho

Option 3 – 10,000 chinook and 168,000 coho

Option 1 introduces selective fishery for chinook salmon in Westport and Columbia River area fisheries. Selective fisheries allow anglers to catch and keep hatchery salmon, which are marked with a missing adipose fin, but require that they release wild salmon.

For nearly a decade, the mass marking of hatchery-produced coho salmon has allowed anglers to fish selectively in Washington’s ocean waters. Mass marking of lower Columbia River hatchery chinook, known as “tules,” has been under way since the mid-2000s, said a department news release. The council is considering using this management tool in ocean fisheries for chinook, said Phil Anderson, interim director. He represents the department on the management council.

“In a year like this, adding chinook selective fisheries in the ocean would help us meet or exceed our conservation objectives while allowing for meaningful recreational fishing opportunities in the ocean,” Anderson said in a prepared statement.

As in the past, all three ocean options are based on selective fisheries for coho.

Final chinook and coho quotas will be part of a comprehensive 2009 salmon fishing package, which also includes marine and freshwater fisheries throughout Puget Sound and the Columbia River. State and tribal co-managers are currently developing those fisheries.

The co-managers will complete the final 2009 salmon fisheries package in conjunction with the PFMC process during its April meeting, the release said.

The deparment has three meetings set up to discuss the upcoming season:

Tuesday: Lacey Community Center, 9 a.m.

March 30: Westport. A time and location will be announced later.

March 31: Lynnwood Embassy Suites, 9 a.m.

Click here for more information about the salmon-season setting process, as well as a schedule of public meetings and salmon run-size forecasts.

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