The state is creating an advisory panel to develop recommendations for protecting giant Pacific octopus in Puget Sound.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking nominees for an advisory group being formed in response to the legal harvest of a giant Pacific octopus in Seattle last October.
Up to 12 people will be chosen to serve on the ad hoc group that will meet periodically through the end of August.
The state Fish and Wildlife Commission, which sets policy for the department, will consider the group’s recommendations in determining whether new rules are warranted for managing octopuses – and possibly other species – in the Sound.
Craig Burley, fish program manager, said the commission’s action was prompted by the controversy created by the legal harvest of an octopus off Seacrest Park in Seattle. Under current rules, divers may legally harvest one giant Pacific octopus per day in those and most other waters of Puget Sound.
“The vast majority of divers and others who contacted WDFW about this issue said octopuses should be protected, especially at popular beaches like Seacrest Park,” Burley said in a prepared statement. “While the information we have indicates Puget Sound’s octopus population is healthy, there may be other compelling reasons to provide greater protection for this species.”
Burley said the advisory group will be asked to develop recommendations within a range of options:
• Close all of Puget Sound to the recreational harvest of giant Pacific octopuses.
• Close popular dive site in Puget Sound to the recreational harvest of giant Pacific octopuses.
• Close popular dive sites in Puget Sound to the recreational harvest of any species.
• Take no action.
The department also plans to schedule public meetings to discuss the advisory committee’s recommendations, before they are submitted to the commission for its consideration.
Burley said the department is seeking candidates with diverse backgrounds – including divers, anglers, conservationists and other interested parties – to serve on the advisory group.
Nominees do not have to be affiliated with an organized group. Nominations must be submitted in writing with the following information:
• Nominee’s name, address, telephone number and email address.
• Relevant experience and reasons for wanting to serve as a member of the advisory group.
• Nominee’s effectiveness in communication.
• Name and contact information for any individual or organization submitting a nomination.
Nominations must be received by Feb. 15 and may be submitted to Craig by mail at Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501; or by email at Craig.Burley@dfw.wa.gov. For more information, contact Burley at 360-902-2784.