Suggestions from the public on how to improve state sportfishing rules in the Columbia River basin must submit their proposals by May 30.
Fish managers with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife will consider proposed rules changes submitted for any fish species except salmon, so long as they apply specifically to the mainstem Columbia River, its tributaries or lakes within the basin, according to a department news release.
The focus on the Columbia River Basin is a change from past practices of considering fishing rules proposed for waters across the state each year, said Craig Burley, fish program manager.
Under this new process, the department will focus on proposals for freshwater fisheries in Puget Sound and coastal areas in 2015, then saltwater fisheries in 2016, he said.
“This approach will allow fishery managers and the public to focus on specific proposals and their potential effects in specific watersheds,” Burley said in the release. “That’s difficult to do if you’re looking at hundreds of proposals affecting waters all over the state.”
The new process was recently approved by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Proposed rule changes developed through this process will be available for public review and comment in August.
The commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposed rule changes in November, and take final action on the 2014-15 sportfishing rule changes at a public meeting in December.Proposed fishing rule change may be submitted online at wdfw.wa.gov/ fishing/regulations/rule_proposals or obtain a submission form by calling 360-902-2700.