Today in Olympia, state fisheries managers are unveiling predictions for the numbers of salmon, by stock and river, they believe will be returning to Washington waters this spring, summer and fall.
These forecasts are the product of February collaborations between biologists representing the state and treaty tribes. For a full look at these piscatorial prognostications for Northwest Washington streams, read the Outdoors Column in next Sunday's Herald
Calculated from estimates of recent past years harvests and spawning escapements including numbers generated up to last fall, these stock performance expectations serve as the basis for negotiated treaty/non-treaty catch-sharing agreements and the setting of both personal use and commercial fishing seasons to exploit the percentages of fish in each run that are deemed harvestable.
The March 3 fish and wildlife department meeting is the jumping off point for the nearly six-week-long public phase of this deliberative process that includes concurrent efforts to shake out consensus on harvest shares and seasons in two main areas.
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One, the North of Falcon Process involving the state and tribes, will focus on the near-shore and in-river fisheries for Puget Sound, coastal and Columbia River salmon stocks, while the second, headed by the Pacific Fishery Management Council, will hammer out terms for salmon fisheries in the 3- to 200-mile federal jurisdiction along the U. S. coast.
Overarching all of this harvest talk will be the watchful eyes of NOAA Fisheries officials who's job it is to make sure the interests of federally protected threatened and endangered species such as Puget Sound and Columbia River chinook are safeguarded.
The first NOF public gathering is slated for Wednesday, March 19 in Olympia announcing proposed seasons. The second and final NOF gathering is in Lynnwood Thursday, April 3. Eleven more regional and federal meetings are scheduled in this process.
All seasons get the final nod at the PFMC closing meeting in Vancouver April 5-10.