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Fisheries Managers Cut Quotas in Washington

by Associated Press
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 8, 2006

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Federal regulators who slashed salmon fishing off Oregon and California cut back quotas in Washington, too, by as much as 40 percent along the coast.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council, which met in Sacramento, Calif., over the past week, set dates and quotas for Puget Sound, the Columbia River and ocean areas at the end of the session Friday. The cuts were imposed as salmon stocks decline around the region.

Along the coast, recreational anglers will able to catch 31,000 chinook and 73,200 coho salmon in the coming season, well below last year's quotas of 43,250 chinook and 121,800 coho, according to a posting on the state Department of Fish and Wildlife's Web site.

The main reason for the reductions was to protect weak wild chinook and coho salmon stocks that have been listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

"Protecting weak wild salmon stocks is our biggest goal in crafting recreational and commercial fisheries," Jeff Koenings, director of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said in a news release.

"With this fishing package, we meet those important conservation objectives and still provide sustainable fisheries this year in Washington's waters."

On Thursday, the fishery management council decided to close most of the 700 miles of coastline to commercial salmon fishing for much of May, June and July, the most productive months of the season, which runs from April-October.

Federal fishery officials said the closures were the broadest ever imposed on the West Coast salmon fishery.

For ocean recreational fishermen, the season in Washington will be shorter than in the last five years, said Tony Floor, a recreational fishing supporter with the Northwest Marine Trade Association.

"I don't expect any of the four ocean ports to have a season that reaches Labor Day," Floor told The News Tribune newspaper in Tacoma. "But there is no option in how you deal with those conservation issues. The most important thing is to protect the fish."

The news is actually better than expected, said Larry Giese, owner of Westport-based Deep Sea Charters. "When we look at the situation in Oregon and California, were pretty happy to have what we have," Giese told The Olympian newspaper.

Anglers fishing out of Neah Bay and in the Columbia River likely will see the greatest season impacts, said Phil Anderson, Koenings' assistant.

"There were a number of difficult issues we had to work through," Anderson said. "Providing meaningful fishing opportunities wouldn't be possible without strong cooperation between the state, the tribes and our constituents."

Salmon restrictions in Puget Sound include:

Details will be outlined in the upcoming 2006-2007 Fishing in Washington pamphlet.

Related Sites:
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Associated Press
Fisheries Managers Cut Quotas in Washington
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 8, 2006

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