Monday, January 30th, 2023
Monday, January 30th, 2023

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Federal panel adopts lower chinook salmon harvest for Pacific coast

VANCOUVER, Wash. – Anglers fishing along the Washington coast
will see a lower catch quota for chinook salmon this year even
though the total number of fish expected to return is higher.

Three ocean salmon-fishing options approved today by the Pacific
Fishery Management Council (PFMC) establish a lower harvest range
for chinook to protect weak salmon stocks – particularly those
returning to the lower Columbia River. The PFMC establishes fishing
seasons in ocean waters three to 200 miles off the Pacific
coast.

Despite an expected increase in chinook abundance, the federal
panel approved tighter restrictions to protect wild salmon stocks
and meet conservation goals, said Phil Anderson, director of the
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“Our first priority is to meet crucial conservation objectives
for wild salmon,” said Anderson, who represents WDFW on the
management council. “The ocean options approved today are designed
to meet or exceed those goals.”

Anderson said two of the options include recreational
mark-selective fisheries for hatchery chinook that would begin in
early June. If implemented, mark-selective fisheries for hatchery
chinook would open ahead of the traditional recreational fishing
season for the second 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 760,000 fall chinook are expected to return to the
Columbia River this year, nearly 108,000 more chinook than last
year’s forecast. A significant portion of that run – about 250,000
fish – is expected to be lower river hatchery chinook, which
traditionally have been the backbone of the recreational ocean
chinook fishery.

For coho salmon, the ocean quota could be similar to or slightly
lower than last year’s harvest guideline, said Anderson. This
year’s forecast of 362,500 Columbia River coho, which account for a
significant portion of the ocean catch, is similar to the 2010
projection.

The PFMC is expected to approve final harvest guidelines for
this year’s recreational ocean fishery in mid-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 – 52,000 chinook and 79,800 coho;

Option 2 – 42,000 chinook and 67,200 coho; and

Option 3 – 32,000 chinook and 54,600 coho.

Using these options as a framework, fishery managers will work with
stakeholders to develop a final fishing package that provides
opportunities on healthy salmon runs while meeting conservation
goals for weak salmon populations, said Anderson.

“Our goal is to provide a full season of fishing for chinook and
coho,” Anderson said. “But to accomplish that we will likely need
to use management tools such as restricting the number of days open
each week and adjusting daily bag limits.”

The PFMC last year adopted recreational ocean fishing quotas of
61,000 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
June 4 with a mark-selective fishery for hatchery chinook in marine
areas 2 (Westport/Ocean Shores) 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay). In
Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco), the season would begin June 11. The
selective fishery would run seven days a week, with a daily limit
of two salmon, through June 25 or until 12,000 hatchery chinook are
retained.

The recreational salmon season would continue June 26 in all
coastal areas for chinook and hatchery coho. Anglers would have a
daily limit of two salmon. In marine areas 2, 3 and 4, anglers
would also be allowed to retain two additional pink salmon.

Option 2: The recreational salmon fishing season would begin
June 11 with a mark-selective fishery for hatchery chinook in all
ocean areas. The fishery would run seven days a week, with a daily
limit of two salmon, through June 25 in Marine Area 1 and through
June 30 in marine areas 2, 3 and 4 or until 12,000 hatchery chinook
are retained.

The recreational salmon season would open for chinook and hatchery
coho June 26 in Marine Area 1; July 1 in marine areas 3 and 4; and
July 3 in Marine Area 2. Anglers fishing those marine areas would
be allowed to retain one chinook as part of a two-salmon daily
limit. Anglers also would be allowed one additional pink salmon
each day in marine areas 2, 3 and 4.

Option 3: Recreational salmon fisheries would begin with
mark-selective fisheries for hatchery chinook and hatchery coho.
Those fisheries would get under way June 24 in marine areas 3 and
4; June 26 in Marine Area 2; and July 3 in Marine Area 1. Wild
chinook retention would be allowed beginning in late July.

More details on these ocean options, including proposed fishing
days per week, are available on PFMC’s website at
http://www.pcouncil.org/.

Chinook and coho quotas approved by the PFMC will be part of a
comprehensive 2011 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 2011 salmon fisheries
package in conjunction with the PFMC process during its April
meeting.

Meanwhile, public meetings are scheduled in March to discuss
regional fisheries issues. A public hearing on the three options
for ocean salmon fisheries is scheduled for March 28 in
Westport.

Fishery managers will consider input from the regional
discussions during the “North of Falcon” process, which involves
planning for fishing seasons in Washington’s waters. Two public
North of Falcon meetings are scheduled for March 15 in Olympia and
April 5 in Lynnwood. Both meetings will begin at 9 a.m.

More information about the salmon-season setting process, as
well as a schedule of public meetings and salmon run-size
forecasts, can be found on WDFW’s North of Falcon website at
http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/.

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