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Federal panel adopts options for ocean salmon sport fisheries

Post by Craig Hill / The News Tribune on March 8, 2012 at 2:11 pm with No Comments »
March 8, 2012 2:11 pm

From the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Anglers fishing along the Washington coast will
likely see a higher catch quota for chinook salmon this year, while
the quota for coho is expected to be similar to last season, the
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.

Three ocean salmon-fishing options approved today by the Pacific
Fishery Management Council (PFMC) anticipate an abundance of chinook
in the ocean, but a down year for Columbia River hatchery coho salmon.
The PFMC establishes fishing seasons in ocean waters three to 200
miles off the Pacific coast.

The three options establish a framework for developing fishing
opportunities on healthy wild and hatchery stocks while meeting
conservation goals for weak salmon populations, said Phil Anderson,
WDFW director.

“Chinook salmon abundance in the ocean is expected to look much like
it did last season, when we had a strong return to the Columbia
River,” said Anderson. “The challenge this year will be to ensure we
meet our conservation goals for coho while still providing a full
season of meaningful fishing opportunities in the ocean.”

Anderson, who represents WDFW on the management council, said two of
the options include recreational mark-selective fisheries for hatchery
chinook that would begin in mid-June. If implemented, mark-selective
fisheries for hatchery chinook would open ahead of the traditional
recreational fishing season for the third straight year.

Mark-selective fisheries allow anglers to catch and keep abundant
hatchery salmon, which are marked with a missing adipose fin, but
require that they release wild salmon.

About 651,000 fall chinook are expected to return to the Columbia
River this season, a run size similar to the last couple year’s
returns. A significant portion of that run – nearly 191,000 – is
expected to be lower river hatchery chinook, which traditionally have
been the backbone of the recreational ocean chinook fishery.

An estimated 317,000 coho also are expected to return to the Columbia
River this year, about 45,000 fish below last year’s projection.
Columbia River coho also account for a significant portion of the
ocean catch.

The PFMC is expected to approve final harvest guidelines for this
year’s recreational ocean fishery in early April. The three options
announced today establish parameters for state and tribal fishery
managers in designing this year’s fishing seasons.  The recreational
fishing options are:

Option 1 – 51,500 chinook and 71,400 coho;
Option 2 – 45,500 chinook and 63,000 coho; and
Option 3 – 35,500 chinook and 54,600 coho.

The PFMC last year adopted recreational ocean fishing quotas of 33,700
chinook and 67,200 coho salmon.

Under each option for this year, the ocean recreational fishery would vary:

·        Option 1: The recreational salmon fishing season would begin
with a mark-selective fishery for hatchery chinook June 9 in Marine
Area 1 (Ilwaco), and June 16 in marine areas 2 (Westport/Ocean
Shores), 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay). The selective fishery in marine
area 1 would run through June 22, while the fishery in marine areas 2,
3 and 4 would run through June 30. In all areas, the fishery would be
open seven days a week with a daily limit of two salmon, not including
coho and wild chinook which must be released. The fishery could close
earlier if a coastwide quota of 8,000 hatchery chinook is reached.

The traditional recreational salmon season for chinook and hatchery
coho would begin June 23 in Marine Area 1, and July 1 in the three
other coastal areas. Anglers would have a daily limit of two salmon in
marine areas 3 and 4. Those fishing marine areas 1 and 2 would also
have a two-salmon daily limit, but could keep only one chinook. In all
areas, the fishery would be open daily.

·        Option 2: The recreational salmon fishing season would begin
June 16 with a mark-selective fishery for hatchery chinook in all
ocean areas. The fishery would be open seven days a week, with a daily
limit of two salmon, through June 22 in Marine Area 1 and through June
23 in marine areas 2, 3 and 4. The fishery could close earlier if a
coastwide quota of 6,000 hatchery chinook is reached.

The recreational salmon season would then open for chinook and
hatchery coho June 23 in Marine Area 1 and June 24 in marine areas 2,
3 and 4. Marine areas 1, 3 and 4 would be open seven days a week,
while Marine Area 2 would be open Sunday through Thursday. Anglers
fishing all four marine areas would be allowed to retain one chinook
as part of a two-salmon daily limit.

·        Option 3: The recreational salmon fishing season for chinook
and hatchery coho would be open from July 3 through Sept. 23 on a
Tuesday-through-Saturday schedule in marine areas 3 and 4. In Marine
Area 2, the season would be open from July 1 through Sept. 23 on a
Sunday-through-Thursday schedule. In Marine Area 1, recreational
salmon fishing would be open seven days a week from June 30 through
Sept. 30. All four marine areas would have a daily limit of two
salmon, only one of which could be a chinook.

More details on these ocean options will be available on PFMC’s
website at www.pcouncil.org/.  A public hearing on the three options
for ocean salmon fisheries is scheduled for March 26 in Westport.

Chinook and coho quotas approved by the PFMC will be part of a
comprehensive 2012 salmon fishing package, which includes marine and
freshwater fisheries throughout Puget Sound, the Columbia River and
Washington’s coastal areas. State and tribal co-managers are currently
developing those fisheries.

The co-managers will complete the final 2012 salmon fisheries package
in conjunction with the PFMC process during its April meeting.

Meanwhile, several public meetings are scheduled in March to discuss
regional fisheries issues. A schedule of public meetings, as well as
salmon run-size forecasts and more information about the salmon-season
setting process, can be found on WDFW’s North of Falcon website at
http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/.

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