State starts development of Willapa Bay salmon fishery management policy

As it develops a new draft policy for managing salmon fisheries in Willapa Bay, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife plans to hold seven meetings and workshops to gather public input.

The policy, like the previously adopted Columbia River and Grays Harbor policies, will provide regional guidance on hatchery and harvest reform and will align fishery management with conservation and economic objectives. The state Fish and Wildlife Commission, the nine-member citizen panel that sets policy for the agency, is scheduled to consider adopting the draft policy in February.

“The department needs the public’s help to identify fishery objectives and create a policy that will ensure sustainable fisheries," said Steve Thiesfeld, regional fish program manager.

The public meetings include an open house, three public workshops and three Willapa Bay salmon management advisory group meetings.

At Saturday’s open house, the public will have the opportunity to learn about commission policies and Willapa Bay salmon management activities, including hatchery production, stock status and harvest.

“We’ll focus our initial conversations with the public on conservation and fishery objectives, including economic and season goals for commercial and recreational fishing for Willapa Bay salmon,” Thiesfeld said in a department news release.

Department fishery managers are scheduled to brief the commission on the development of the policy at its November meeting in Olympia.

A range of policy options will be developed and discussed at the December commission meeting in Olympia. The commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the draft policy options during its January meeting.

The commission is scheduled to make a final decision at its February meeting.