State officials drafted a new management plan for salmon fisheries. The new scheme will correct the old program that was much too restrictive. Discussions about this year’s salmon season plans took an unusually long time, which determined many fisheries to close.
This year, the negotiations were longer than usual and ended in the middle of spring. All fishermen will have to respect special measures to support the governmental efforts in endangered species conservation.
Participants in the debate say that a more efficient communication would have helped in drafting the plans sooner and starting the fishing season earlier. The discussions focused on the issues experienced by some of the fisheries.
Differences in Opinion
Managers of the state fisheries succeeded in reinstating the Central Puget Sound hatchery that was closed last year. The region will be open only for hatchery chinook. Baker Lake will be open from July until September, in order to answer the generous sockeye forecast for this year.
As for tribal officials, they want to restore the Puget Sound fishing throughout the area. They argue it’s nobody’s fault that salmon are scarce. The lack of habitat and the lack of salmon make them fight over the last piece, and everyone has to pay the price.
On the other side, the sport season on Puyallup River will be closed this year. Coho fishing will be forbidden, except for Hood Canal. And Puget Sound central and northern areas will be closed after the hatchery chinook summer quotas will be reached. Moreover, fishery in the south-central area will be closed from September.
The representatives of the sport fishing community freely accepted the restrictions.
Among the areas dedicated to recreational fishers one can find Alki Point, Restoration Point, Possession Bar, Jefferson Head, Grays Harbor, and Chambers Creek. The marine areas include Neah Bay, San Juan Islands, Hood Canal, Sekiu-Pillar Point, and Grays Harbor.
Puget Sound is famous for its sport fisheries. Almost 200,000 anglers had licenses for the last year’s season.
Lower Skokomish will be closed this year because the tribe declared it’s a reservation land, and public access is prohibited. Tribal representatives say that these measures are intended to help preserve the region, for both natives and non-natives.
The tribes agreed to reduce the winter-troll for Strait of Juan de Fuca from 8.500 down to 4,500. The plan also decided to cut back the netting time on Puyallup River and other regions.
Environmental Issues and Protective Measures
The local salmon population suffers from the fact that industrial development and pollution affected the places for spawning and rearing. Moreover, fish survival rates are decreasing because of deficient ocean conditions.
In regards to the ocean fishing, scientists say that soho’s survival was impaired by a vast area of ocean water that affected the food chain in the West Coast waters.
The managers will further focus on long-term actions and will take measures to restore the habitat and boost the stocks of salmons.
The new Puget Sound agreement will have to be validated by the NOAA in order to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Endangered Species Act.
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