Commission alters draft salmon management policy

Staff reportJanuary 26, 2014 

After making revisions proposed by members of the state Fish and Wildlife Commission, more public comments are sought before a final vote on a revised draft policy to improve salmon management in Grays Harbor.

The draft includes new provisions to conserve wild salmon runs, clarify catch allocation and reduce conflicts between sport and commercial fishermen.

The new provisions were added during a public meeting Jan. 10-11 in Tumwater attended by more than 150 anglers.

Commissioner Rolland Schmitten, who spoke in favor of the amendments, pointed out during the meeting that fisheries in southeast Alaska and Canada intercept nearly half of all fall chinook salmon returning to the Chehalis River, which flows into Grays Harbor.

A breakdown of the 2013 distribution of fall chinook showed about 48 percent went to Alaska and Canadian fisheries, 42 percent were set aside for spawning, 6 percent went to treaty tribes, 4 percent went to recreational fisheries (fresh and salt water) and 1 percent to state-managed commercial fisheries.

“Our challenge is that there are simply not enough salmon to meet the expectations of all stakeholders,” Schmitten said in a department news release.

In addition, the fall chinook run is challenged by degraded habitat, resulting in a 68 percent reduction in production potential.

Ron Warren, deputy assistant director of the Fish Program, thanked the commission for adding provisions he said would provide the department with clear direction for setting future seasons for nontribal salmon fisheries in Grays Harbor.

“We need to focus on conserving and restoring the salmon runs in the Grays Harbor Basin,” Warren said.

GET INVOLVED

See updates: You can read the draft policy at wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/grays_harbor_salmon.

To comment: Written comments on the revised draft may be submitted through Friday via email to commission@dfw.wa.gov or by mail to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091.

Final decision: The revised policy is scheduled to be voted on by the commission at its meeting Feb. 7-8.

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