State fishery managers have scheduled a variety of opportunities for the public to participate in setting salmon fishing seasons for 2018, beginning at the annual salmon forecast meeting Feb. 27.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will present initial forecasts compiled by state and tribal biologists of the 2018 salmon returns at the meeting scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Lacey Community Center, 6729 Pacific Ave. S.E., Olympia.
That meeting is one of more than 20 scheduled at various locations around the state as part of each year’s salmon negotiations. A list of the meetings scheduled in 2018 can be found online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/
State fishery managers will be relying on input from anglers, commercial fishers and others interested in salmon as they work to develop this year’s fisheries, said Ron Warren, head of WDFW’s fish program.
Additionally, fishery managers plan to discuss with the public ways to simplify salmon-fishing regulations, said Warren. Over the last two years, WDFW has been working to simplify regulations after hearing from the public that the state’s fishing rules are too complex.
“It’s really important for us to hear what the public has to say about salmon fisheries,” Warren said. “I encourage people to get involved and share their ideas on fishing opportunities and ways we can simplify the rules for anglers.”
In addition to attending meetings, other ways the public can participate include:
- Online comments: The public can provide comments on fisheries and rule simplification through an online commenting tool as salmon seasons are developed. The online tool will be available in the coming weeks on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/
- Plenary session: This year, the co-managers have agreed to invite the public to an informal discussion, which is tentatively scheduled to follow a state-tribal negotiating session in early April. Meeting information will be posted on the website listed above.
- Conference calls and daily briefings: During the final days of negotiations, state fish managers will hold multiple briefings each day with the public as well as conference calls with constituents who can’t attend.
State salmon managers scheduled these opportunities under guidance from the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor that sets policy for WDFW. Commissioners have instructed WDFW staff to continue to work with their tribal co-managers to make the season-setting process as transparent as possible.
The annual process of setting salmon fishing seasons is called “North of Falcon” and is held in conjunction with public meetings conducted by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC). The council is responsible for establishing fishing seasons in ocean water three to 200 miles off the Pacific coast.
The PFMC is expected to adopt final ocean fishing seasons and harvest levels at its April 6-11 meeting in Portland, Ore. The 2018 salmon fisheries package for Washington’s inside waters is expected to be completed by the state and tribal co-managers during the PFMC’s April meeting.