OUTDOORS: Chinook management plan may hurt fishing opportunity

IF SALMON ANGLERS in Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) think they have it bad now, just wait.

Shutdowns of summer king and winter blackmouth fisheries are possible under a new 10-year Comprehensive Management Plan for Puget Sound Chinook authored by state and tribal co-managers.

The plan, all of 330-plus pages, is available at tinyurl.com/PDN-ChinookPlan.

It is meant to guide harvest and conservation of ESA-listed Puget Sound Chinook and could reduce the risk of North of Falcon-related delays, such as the state and tribal dispute that popped up during 2015 salmon-season negotiations and nearly scuttled recreational salmon fishing that year.

But a byproduct of the plan also may mean less fish to catch in down years.

This new version updates a plan that expired in 2014 but also must be approved by federal overseers with the National Marine Fisheries Service before it goes into effect for the 2019-20 to 2028-29 fishing seasons.

Chinook the priority

Devised by Fish and Wildlife and 17 tribes, including the Makah, Lower Elwha Klallam and Jamestown S’Klallam, through a court-mediated, confidential process, the plan’s “fundamental intent” is “to enable harvest of strong, productive stocks of chinook, and other salmon species, and to minimize harvest of weak or critically depressed chinook stocks. Providing adequate conservation of weak stocks will necessitate foregoing some harvestable surplus of stronger stocks,” according to the plan’s executive summary.

It will seek “to refine the management of state and tribal fisheries to better support efforts to conserve and recover wild Puget Sound Chinook salmon stocks, whose numbers have continued to significantly decline since they were listed for protection in 1999.”

WDFW also warns of “reductions to state and tribal fisheries in Washington, especially in years with expected low salmon returns.”

Added protections, or an increased emphasis on protecting wild chinook stock returning to Puget Sound rivers could further restrict numerous fisheries because those fish are caught in many areas of Puget Sound.

There is a massive amount of information on where and what group is catching chinook heading through the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Puget Sound rivers and streams and exploitation rates, low abundance thresholds and points of instability for each stock.

Habitat conditions, not overharvest, is diminishing the region’s chinook, the plan states. Recovery is “primarily dependent on restoration of functioning habitat.”

Anglers meet in PT

The East Jefferson Chapter Of Puget Sound Anglers will meet Tuesday in the Port of Port Townsend Commissioners Office, 333 Benedict St. in Port Townsend.

Social time begins at 6:30 p.m. with cookies and coffee, with the business meeting beginning at 7 p.m.

The topic for discussion at this meeting will be the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s new Voluntary Trip Report for coho and king salmon and the group’s silent auction fundraiser Tuesday, Jan. 9.

An auction will be held. The public is invited to attend.


Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]

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