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WDFW seeks comments on revised draft policy for Grays Harbor fisheries

OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is seeking public comments on a revised draft policy to improve salmon management in Grays Harbor.

The revised draft policy includes new provisions recently proposed by the commission to conserve wild salmon runs, clarify catch allocation, and reduce conflicts between sport and commercial fishers in the harbor.

The commission, a citizen panel that sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), added the new provisions during a public meeting attended by more than 150 fishers Jan. 10-11 in Tumwater.

Ron Warren, deputy assistant director of WDFW’s Fish Program, thanked the commission for adding provisions he said would provide the department with clear direction for setting future seasons for non-tribal salmon fisheries in Grays Harbor.

“We need to focus on conserving and restoring the salmon runs in the Grays Harbor Basin,” Warren said.

The revised policy, scheduled for a vote by the commission at a meeting Feb. 7-8, is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/grays_harbor_salmon/ .

Written comments on the revised draft policy may be submitted through Jan. 31 via email to commission@dfw.wa.gov or by mail to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091.

Commissioner Rolland Schmitten, who spoke in favor of the amendments, noted that fisheries in southeast Alaska and Canada intercept nearly half of all fall chinook salmon returning to the Chehalis River, which flows into Grays Harbor.

“Our challenge is that there are simply not enough salmon to meet the expectations of all stakeholders,” Schmitten said.

In other business, the commission modified fishing rules for two rivers on opposite sides of the Cascade Range:

  • Naselle River:   Fishing from a floating device equipped with an internal combustion motor was prohibited year round from the Highway 4 Bridge upstream to the Crown mainline (Salme) Bridge. The commission’s action was based on a citizens’ petition.
  • San Poil River:   The daily limit for walleye was raised from eight fish to 16 fish to address an overpopulation of walleye in this tributary to Lake Roosevelt.

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