Public comment sought on salmon seasons


February 23, 2023

Fishery managers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) have scheduled numerous opportunities for the public to participate in setting state-managed salmon seasons in 2023-2024, beginning with a statewide forecast meeting on March 3.

That meeting, part of the season-setting process known as North of Falcon, is just one of more than a dozen in-person and virtual meetings scheduled in the coming months to discuss salmon fisheries across Washington. North of Falcon refers to waters north of Oregon's Cape Falcon, which marks the southern border of management of Washington's salmon stocks, including Puget Sound, Strait of Juan de Fuca, Columbia River, and coastal areas.

Input from recreational and commercial fishers and others interested in salmon fishing will be considered while state fishery managers partner with tribal co-managers to craft the 2023-2024 fisheries.

"We know Washington anglers look forward to salmon seasons each year, with many planning trips well in advance, and the season-setting process is a crucial time for the public to engage as we work alongside tribal co-managers" said WDFW Director Kelly Susewind. "The process is about cooperation and collaboration. We're committed to providing sustainable fishing opportunities balanced with salmon conservation needs. We are continually working to improve fisheries management in the interest of salmon, recreational and commercial fishers, and the communities that depend on the salmon resource."

WDFW will present initial salmon forecasts developed by WDFW and tribal co-manager fisheries biologists on March 3 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Lacey Community Center, 6729 Pacific Avenue S.E. in Lacey. The main session of the March 3 meeting will be available to watch via Zoom webinar. WDFW and tribal forecasters use a suite of scientific data, including watershed sampling and monitoring, ocean indicators, and previous year returns, to estimate the number of salmon and steelhead that will return to Northwest waters, and how many fish will be available for harvest.

In addition to attending meetings, the public can participate in the state's process including:

--Online comments: The public can now provide general comments on potential fisheries at WDFW's North of Falcon public input webpage. Additional comment opportunities on specific seasons and fisheries will be available as forecasts and proposed season summaries are made available.

--Conference calls and daily briefings: During the final days of negotiations, state fish managers plan to hold briefings each day, which will be available via conference call.

For a full timeline of the state's North of Falcon process, including a public meeting schedule with opportunities to participate in meetings and provide public feedback, visit WDFW's North of Falcon public meetings webpage. Any additional meetings will be added as they are scheduled. WDFW-hosted meetings will be held in-person or in virtual and hybrid formats for the public to watch or listen.

This process occurs in tandem with Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) public meetings to establish fishing seasons for salmon in ocean waters 3-200 miles off the Pacific coast. The PFMC will discuss preliminary options for ocean fisheries during its March 5-10 meeting and is expected to adopt final fishing seasons and harvest levels at its April 2-7 meeting. More information on meetings is available on PFMC's website.


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