STATE REVIEWS WATERFOWL SEASON, OCTOPUS HARVEST:

Staff reportJuly 28, 2013 

The State Fish and Wildlife Commission will discuss upcoming waterfowl hunting seasons and whether to allow harvesting of giant Pacific octopuses in Puget Sound when it meets Friday and Saturday.

Don Kraege, waterfowl section manager for the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s wildlife program, will brief the commission on proposed waterfowl seasons and regulations.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that duck numbers are down about 6 percent compared with 2012, but remain well above long-term averages.

The state is awaiting word from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the framework for waterfowl hunting season lengths, dates and bag limits for the upcoming season. The federal agency works with state biologists from the four flyways — Atlantic, Mississippi, Central and Pacific — to establish the options for the season.

Octopus fishing: The commission is expected to vote Friday on sportfishing regulations to implement management options for giant Pacific octopuses in Puget Sound. Commissioners will choose one of four options developed by department staffers in consultation with a 12-member citizen advisory group. The options include making no change in current rules and a ban on harvesting octopuses anywhere in Puget Sound. Under current rules, a person with a valid state fishing license can harvest one giant Pacific octopus per day in most areas of Puget Sound. Public reaction to a diver catching an octopus off Alki Beach in Seattle in October prompted the development of the proposals.

Sockeye update: Aaron Default, Fish Program biologist, will brief commissioners on the status and population trends for sockeye salmon, as well as obstacles for recovery, including environmental factors that control abundance and survival of sockeye in the state. The commission will take public comment on the matter.

Money matters: The commission on Friday will receive a series of briefings on financial and legislative matters. Owen Rowe, budget officer with the agency’s Technology and Financial Management office, will update the commission on the agency’s operating budget proposals. Tim Burns, assistant director of the Capital and Asset Management Program, will discuss the agency’s 2013-2015 capital budget. Ann Larson, legislative liaison, will talk about the department’s 2014 legislative proposals.

Special session: The commission is scheduled to meet in executive session at 2:30 p.m. Thursday. The commission is scheduled to meet with legal counsel.

Where: Room 172, Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. SE, Olympia.

Agenda: wdfw.wa.gov/commission.

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