Options presented for ocean fisheries based on predictions

Fish managers released their options for Washington’s ocean salmon fisheries that reflect recent concerns over projected chinook stocks and optimism about improved returns of coho.

Three options for ocean salmon fisheries were approved Tuesday for public review by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC).

Kyle Adicks, salmon fisheries policy lead for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says that the three alternatives are designed to protect the low numbers of chinook expected to return to the Columbia River and Washington’s ocean waters.

“With these alternatives in hand, we will work with stakeholders to develop a final fishing package for Washington’s coastal and inside waters that meets our conservation objectives for wild salmon,” Adicks said. “Anglers can expect improved opportunities to fish for coho salmon compared to recent years while fishing opportunities for chinook likely will be similar to last year.”

Similar to 2018, this year’s forecast for Columbia River fall chinook is down roughly 50 percent from the 10-year average. About 100,500 hatchery chinook are expected to return to the lower Columbia River.

Fishery managers estimate 905,800 coho will return to the Columbia River this year, up 619,600 fish from the 2018 forecast.

State fishery managers are working with tribal co-managers and NOAA Fisheries to take into account the needs of southern resident orcas while developing salmon fishing seasons.

“We will continue to assess the effects of fisheries on southern resident killer whales as we move towards setting our final fishing seasons in April,” Adicks said.

The options include the following quotas for recreational fisheries off the Washington coast:

Option 1: 32,500 chinook and 172,200 coho. Marine areas 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay) would open June 15 while marine areas 1 (Ilwaco) and 2 (Westport) would open June 22. All four areas would be open daily and La Push would have a late-season fishery under this option.

Option 2: 27,500 chinook and 159,600 coho. Marine areas 1, 3, and 4 would open daily beginning June 22 while Marine Area 2 would open daily beginning June 29. There would be no late-season fishery in Marine Area 3.

Option 3: 22,500 chinook and 94,400 coho. Marine areas 1, 3, and 4 would open daily beginning June 29 while Marine Area 2 would be open five days per week (Sunday through Thursday) beginning June 16. There would be no late-season fishery in Marine Area 3.

Fisheries may close early if quotas have been met.

Local meetings are scheduled for residents to provide their input.

March 25

Public Hearing on Ocean Salmon Management Options

  • 7 p.m.; Chateau Westport – Beach Room, 710 W. Hancock, Westport.
  • Public hearing, sponsored by the Pacific Fishery Management Council, to receive comments on the proposed ocean salmon fishery management options adopted by the council during its early March meeting.

March 26

Grays Harbor Fisheries Discussion

  • 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Montesano City Hall, 112 N. Main St., Montesano.
  • Public discussion for discussion of pre-season forecasts and possible salmon fisheries in Grays Harbor and its associated watersheds.

March 27

Willapa Bay Fisheries Discussion

  • 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Raymond Elks Club, 326 3rd St., Raymond
  • Public meeting for discussion of pre-season forecasts and possible salmon fisheries in Willapa Bay and associated watersheds.

April 3

North of Falcon Meeting
This meeting is scheduled to be live streamed

  • 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Lynnwood Embassy Suites, 20610 44th Ave. W., Lynnwood.
  • Public meeting to present results of state-tribal negotiations and analyses of preliminary fishery proposals. With public participation, preferred options are developed for Puget Sound sport and commercial fisheries.
  • Plenary session: State and tribal co-managers will hold an informal discussion that is open to the public. Additional details will be added when finalized.

April 11-15

Final Pacific Fishery Management Council Meeting

  • DoubleTree by Hilton Sonoma, One DoubleTree Drive, Rohnert Park, Calif.
  • PFMC adopts final ocean fisheries regulations and state-tribal fishing plans are finalized for all inside area commercial and sport salmon fisheries.

The public will also soon be able to comment on proposed salmon fisheries through WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/, where a full list of scheduled public meetings can be found.

Last year, the PFMC adopted recreational ocean fishing quotas of 27,500 chinook and 42,000 coho.

Chinook and coho quotas approved by the PFMC will be part of a comprehensive 2019 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 other fisheries.

State and tribal co-managers will complete the final 2019 salmon fisheries package in conjunction with PFMC during its April meeting in Rohnert Park, Calif.

Several additional public meetings are scheduled in March and April to discuss regional fisheries issues.

For more details about the options, visit PFMC’s webpage at https://www.pcouncil.org/blog/, where information can be found about a March 25 public meeting in Westport on the three alternatives for ocean salmon fisheries.

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