Ocean Salmon Sport News

fishWA 2Anglers fishing along the Washington coast could see a higher catch quota for chinook salmon, and all three sport harvest alternatives for coho are up from last year. Three alternatives for ocean salmon fisheries, approved Thursday for public review by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC), were developed in response to projections of a higher abundance of Columbia River hatchery chinook and a significant increase in Columbia River coho. The PFMC establishes fishing seasons in ocean waters three to 200 miles off the Pacific coast.
 
The three alternatives establish a range of season structures and harvest quotas for ocean fisheries, while taking into account the needs of inside fisheries and ensuring that conservation objectives for wild fish are met, said Phil Anderson, director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“The strong returns forecast for Columbia River hatchery chinook and coho will allow us to provide recreational anglers some great fishing opportunities off the Washington coast this year, while continuing to meet conservation objectives for wild salmon populations,” said Anderson, who represents WDFW on the management council.  

Two of the three alternatives include recreational mark-selective fisheries for hatchery chinook in June. If approved, this would be the fifth-straight year the ocean fishery would begin with a mark-selective fishery targeting hatchery chinook. Mark-selective fisheries allow anglers to catch and keep abundant hatchery salmon, marked with a missing adipose fin, but require that they release wild salmon.
 
Two of the alternatives would also allow retention of hatchery chinook in the LaPush and Neah Bay areas during halibut openings in May.

More than 1.6 million Columbia River fall chinook salmon are expected back this year. If that run comes in at forecast it would be the largest since record-keeping began in 1938. A portion of the run – about 225,000 salmon – is expected to be lower river hatchery chinook, which traditionally have been the backbone of the recreational ocean chinook fishery. In-river fisheries will also benefit from the strong return.   

Additionally, the ocean abundance of Columbia River coho is forecast to be about 964,000 fish, three times as many fish as last year’s actual abundance. A significant portion of that run will contribute to the ocean fishery as well.

The PFMC is scheduled to make its final decision on this year’s ocean regulations and harvest quotas for recreational and commercial fisheries at its April meeting in Vancouver, Wash. The recreational fishing alternatives include the following quotas for fisheries off the Washington coast:
 
•  Alternative 1 – 60,000 chinook and 193,200 coho.
•  Alternative 2 – 58,000 chinook and 176,400 coho.
•  Alternative 3 – 47,500 chinook and 159,600 coho.
 
The PFMC last year adopted recreational ocean fishing quotas of 48,000 chinook and 74,760 coho salmon.

Under each option for this year, the ocean recreational fishery would vary:

Alternative 1:

Selective fishery for hatchery chinook:
Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) and 2 (Westport/Ocean Shores): May 31-June 20: Open daily. Daily limit of two salmon, except anglers must release coho and wild chinook.
Marine areas 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay): May 16-17 and May 23-24 and May 31-June 20: Open daily. Daily limit of two salmon, except anglers must release coho and wild chinook.

Traditional ocean salmon fishery for chinook and hatchery coho:
Marine Area 1: June 21-Sept. 30: Open daily. Daily limit of two salmon, but only one chinook may be retained.
Marine Area 2: June 21-Sept. 30: Open daily. Daily limit of two salmon, but only one chinook may be retained.
Marine Area 3: June 21-Sept. 21 and Sept. 27-Oct. 12: Open daily. Daily limit of two salmon.  
Marine Area 4: June 21-Sept. 21: Open daily. Daily limit of two salmon.

Alternative 2:

Selective fishery for hatchery chinook:
Marine areas 1 and 2: June 7-June 20: Open daily. Daily limit of two salmon, except anglers must release coho and wild chinook.
Marine areas 3 and 4: May 23-24 and June 7-20: Open daily. Daily limit of two salmon, except anglers must release coho and wild chinook.

Traditional ocean salmon fishery for chinook and hatchery coho:
Marine Area 1: June 21-Sept. 30: Open daily. Daily limit of two salmon, but only one chinook may be retained.
Marine Area 2: June 21-Sept. 21: Open daily. Daily limit of two salmon, but only one chinook may be retained.
Marine Area 3: June 21-Sept. 21 and Sept. 27-Oct. 12: Open daily. Daily limit of two salmon.
Marine Area 4: June 21-Sept. 21: Open daily. Daily limit of two salmon.

Alternative 3:

Traditional ocean salmon fishery for chinook and hatchery coho:
Marine Area 1: June 14-Sept. 30: Open daily. Daily limit of two salmon, but only one chinook may be retained.
Marine Area 2: June 15-Sept. 30: Open daily. Daily limit of two salmon, but only one chinook may be retained.
Marine Area 3: June 14-Sept. 21 and Sept. 27-Oct. 12: Open daily. Daily limit of two salmon.
Marine Area 4: June 14-Sept. 21: Open daily. Daily limit of two salmon.
 
A public hearing on the three alternatives for ocean salmon fisheries is scheduled for March 24 in Westport.
 
Chinook and coho quotas approved by the PFMC will be part of a comprehensive 2014 salmon fishing package, which includes marine and freshwater fisheries throughout Puget Sound, the Columbia River and Washington’s coastal areas. State and tribal co-managers are currently developing those fisheries.
 
The co-managers will complete the final 2014 salmon fisheries package in conjunction with the PFMC process during its April meeting.
 
Meanwhile, several public meetings are scheduled in March to discuss regional fisheries issues. A schedule of public meetings, as well as salmon run-size forecasts and more information about the salmon-season setting process, can be found on WDFW’s North of Falcon website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/.