The unprecedented impasse on salmon fishing seasons has now lead to upcoming fishing closures in all Puget Sound marine areas, and some popular lakes and lower river areas, announced by state Fish and Wildlife on Friday.
There are five lakes and many lower river sections that feed into Puget Sound that will close to all fishing on Sunday (May 1) when salmon and steelhead fishing season also comes to a close in Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
The closures come on the heels after talks between state and tribal fishery managers broke down for the third time in two weeks on developing a joint plan for salmon fisheries in Puget Sound.
“The May 1 closures from a marine salmon anglers stand point aren’t important since many of the more popular fisheries really don’t start up until July 1,” said Tony Floor, director of fishing affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association in Seattle. “But, the grim reaper on salmon fishing closures isn’t on top of the hill, and he is actually right across the street. To close some of these areas until further notice like the Strait of Juan de Fuca in the summer will mean those resort owners cannot economically exist. It is a tough situation no matter which direction you look at it.”
The state doesn’t know how long it would take to get federal approval of a permit to allow some type of salmon fishing in Puget Sound this season, but hoped to get it as fast as they could. The tribes will also seek approval through permit process for their own fisheries.
On the NOAA website there is an explanation on the process permit each party must attain in order to get fisheries to happen, and can be seen at http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/permits/hatchery_permits.html. For a story on the impasse related to Puget Sound salmon fisheries, go to http://www.seattletimes.com/sports/state-and-tribes-still-at-impasse-on-salmon-fishing-seasons-all-of-puget-sound-closes-on-may-1/.
“Since we didn’t reach an agreement with treaty tribal co-managers on this year’s Puget Sound salmon fisheries, we have to close fishing in areas where we know salmon will be,” Ron Warren, the state Fish and Wildlife salmon policy coordinator said in a news release.
Lakes that will close May 1 to all fishing include Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish in King County; Monte Cristo Lake in Snohomish County; Lake Cushman in Mason County; and Barney Lake in Skagit County.
Examples of rivers where at least sections, if not all, are closed to fishing include the Skagit, Stillaguamish and Snohomish rivers. The closures will also affect rivers that normally reopen on June 1 in the Puget Sound region, but fishery managers will be evaluating certain rivers to determine whether any can open on time. For details, go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/pugetsound_salmon_update/.
All sport fishing for Puget Sound salmon and steelhead, including southern Puget Sound (Marine Catch Area 13) south of the Narrows Bridge, and year-round fishing piers will close on May 1 until further notice.
Marine sport fisheries not affected by the closure include lingcod, halibut, Pacific cod and cabezon, as well as sea-run cutthroat trout, which are covered under a separate permit and will open as planned.
One area in southwest Washington not affected by the salmon closures are the Columbia River and its tributaries, and coastal areas and northern Olympic coastal rivers. For details, go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/.
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The ocean summer salmon fishing is also set to begin July 1 at Ilwaco, Westport, La Push and Neah Bay. The council set the overall sport and nontribal catch this season at 35,000 chinook (64,000 last year) and 18,900 hatchery-marked coho (150,800).