OLYMPIA –The public can participate in setting state-managed salmon fishing seasons for 2021, beginning with an annual salmon forecast meeting on Feb. 26.
That meeting is one of a dozen scheduled virtually as part of each year's salmon season discussions. State Department of Fish and Wildlife fishery managers will consider comments from anglers, commercial fishers and others interested in salmon as they work with tribal co-managers to craft this year's fisheries.
“Working together alongside tribal co-managers, we remain committed to fostering a cooperative process that engages all those who care about these important species,” said Kelly Susewind, department director. “Hearing from Washington’s angling community, commercial fishers and others is critical to this process, especially as we head into what’s looking like another tough year for some salmon runs.
“Understanding the public’s priorities helps us and the tribes to come to resolution on which sustainable fishing opportunities can be realized while also meeting our conservation objectives.”
“Our job gets tougher every year because salmon are steadily declining as their habitat is being lost faster than it can be restored,” said Lorraine Loomis, chairwoman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. “It will take a lot of work to fix that problem, but we all want the same thing: Healthy salmon runs that can provide sustainable harvest for everyone far into the future.”
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26, the department will present initial forecasts from it and tribal fisheries biologist analysis. Watershed sampling and monitoring, ocean indicators and previous year returns are used to predict the number of salmon and steelhead that will return to Northwest waters, and how many fish will be available for harvest.
In addition to attending virtual meetings, other ways the public can participate in the state’s process include:
-Online comments: Starting in early March, the public can provide comments on forecasts and proposed fisheries at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/management/north-falcon/public-input.
-Conference calls and daily briefings: During the final days of negotiations, state fish managers plan to hold briefings each day, which will be available via conference call.
More information is on the department’s North of Falcon website.
The process occurs in tandem with Pacific Fishery Management Council public meetings to establish fishing seasons for salmon in ocean waters three to 200 miles off the Pacific coast. More information is on the council’s website.