The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is offering numerous opportunities for public participation in setting this year’s salmon fishing seasons, beginning with the statewide forecast meeting on Friday, Feb. 28.

State fishery managers will present initial 2020 salmon return forecasts at the meeting scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Department of Social and Health Services Office Building 2 Auditorium, located at 1115 Washington St. SE, Olympia.

The statewide forecast meeting is just one of more than a dozen public meetings scheduled throughout the state as part of salmon season-setting process. A list of the scheduled meetings is available online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/management/north-falcon. Some meeting locations and times are still being determined, but will be updated online as they’re finalized.

These public meetings offer a key opportunity for anyone interested in Washington fisheries to weigh in on upcoming seasons, said Kelly Cunningham, head of WDFW’s fish program.

“We hear from recreational anglers, commercial fishers, and other stakeholders year-round, but these meetings really allow for in-depth discussion before seasons are set,” said Cunningham. “We want to make sure everyone has a chance to be a part of this process and have their voice heard.”

In addition to attending meetings in person, the public can also participate in the following ways:

  • Online comments: Beginning in mid-March, fishery proposals will be posted on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/management/north-falcon, where the public can submit comments electronically.
  • Plenary session: State and tribal co-managers plan to hold an informal discussion during the public meeting on Tuesday, March 31, in Lynnwood. Details will be available on the webpage listed above. 
  • Meetings on video: The department intends to provide video of several of its public meetings. More information will be available online soon.

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 waters 3 to 200 miles off the Pacific coast.

The PFMC is expected to adopt final ocean fishing seasons and harvest levels at its April 3-10 meeting in Vancouver, Washington. The tentative 2020 salmon fisheries package for Washington’s inside waters is also expected to be completed by state and tribal co-managers during the PFMC’s April meeting.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.