This season the International Pacific Halibut Commission approved a 1,140,000-pound catch quota for commercial, sport and tribal fisheries in Area 2A compared to 750,000 in 2015 and 720,000 in 2014.

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Coastal halibut anglers will like what’s in store this spring as fishing seasons will closely resemble what occurred last year.

“All the fishing seasons and quotas were approved, and there are no changes for sport fisheries,” said Heather Reed, a state Fish and Wildlife coastal policy coordinator.

In general, the halibut stock has been relatively stable the past four to five years in Catch Area 2A, which covers the coast off Washington, Oregon and California.

This season the International Pacific Halibut Commission approved a 1,140,000-pound catch quota for commercial, sport and tribal fisheries in Area 2A compared to 750,000 in 2015 and 720,000 in 2014.

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Washington sport anglers will have a catch quota of 214,110 pounds, which was identical to 2015 and 2014.

The northern coastal (Neah Bay and La Push) sport quota is 108,030 pounds; south-central coast (Westport) is 40,739 plus a reserve of 2,000 for the near-shore fishery; southern coast (Ilwaco) is 11,009 with 500 for the near-shore fishery; and the Puget Sound/Strait of Juan de Fuca is 57,393. Oregon shares part of their sport allocation of about 5,561 pounds with Washington’s southern coast fishery.

Neah Bay and La Push will be open May 7, 12 and 14. Catches will then be assessed to see if additional openings are possible. The northern coast quota was achieved in just three days last year and four days in 2014.

Westport will be open May 1 with fishing allowed Sundays and Tuesdays only for three consecutive weeks, and closed May 22 and 24. Catches will then be assessed to see if enough remains to reopen fishing.

The near-shore fishery at Westport begins May 1, and stays open daily until the quota is reached or Sept. 30, whichever occurs first. Last year, the Westport offshore season was open five days, and has averaged five to six days in previous years.

Ilwaco opens May 1 with fishing allowed each week from Thursdays to Sundays, and will close once the quota is achieved. The Ilwaco near-shore fishery opens May 2 with fishing allowed Monday to Wednesday only.

In all areas, the daily catch limit is one halibut with no minimum size limit.

Later this month, the National Marine Fisheries Service will give their final approval for coastal fisheries.

Halibut fishing seasons for Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca will be announced this week.

Lower Columbia coho returns look to be lower

The Oregon Production Index, which provides ocean coho abundance forecasts, was released Thursday by state fisheries officials, and the numbers this summer/fall are down.

The forecast calls for 549,200 coho to arrive off the Washington-Oregon coast, compared to a preseason forecast of 1,015,000 last year and an actual return of 322,100 (forecast in 2014 was 964,100 and a return of 1,240,800).

The Columbia subtotal this season is 380,600 – these are fish that turn the corner of southwest Washington and doesn’t include the northern Oregon coast.

“Those coho numbers aren’t good, bottom line, and we’re on the thin side, but that figure isn’t the end of the world,” said Doug Milward, a state Fish and Wildlife coastal salmon manager.

The Columbia forecast last year was 777,100 coho, but less than a third actually returned – 242,300. Poor ocean conditions and a lack of feed could have played a negative role.

“When looking at past coho seasons, we’re right at about the same as 2010, 2011 and 2012 when it was in the doldrums,” Milward said.

While coho look lean, it appears the Washington chinook returns might be the savior.

“What may save our bacon this year could be some pretty good chinook returns at least from preliminary data we got like chinook jack counts,” Milward said. “

Summer and fall salmon forecasts including the Puget Sound/Strait of Juan de Fuca region will come to light when state Fish and Wildlife unveils their outlook 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 1 at the Natural Resources Building in Olympia.