OUTDOORS: License fee increase a virtual lock

STATE FISH AND Wildlife Commission members are now putting forth a proposed 15 percent increase in fishing and hunting license fees while attempting to rein in the fee spikes for those purchasing multiple licenses.

The commission, a citizen board appointed by the governor to set policy for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will include the recommendation with other proposals designed to eliminate a $31 million gap between projected revenue and expenses during the 2019-2021 state budget cycle that begins next July.

Earlier this month, the commission recommended a 5 percent increase for all license holders and was prepared to forward that suggestion along to state lawmakers.

But a letter signed by 15 of 20 members of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Budget and Policy Advisory Group argued the smaller rise in fees wouldn’t cover inflation since the last license increase in 2011 and would “be frowned upon by legislators and force the department into cuts that will harm our interests and the state’s natural resources,” they wrote.

With Monday’s revision, the commission directed the department to propose to Governor Jay Inslee that the state close the $31 million funding gap and make another $28 million of spending increases with a mix of roughly 75 percent in general funds and 25 percent in increased license revenue.

To cushion the impact on people who buy multiple hunting and fishing licenses, the commission would limit the maximum increase for bundled packages to $7 for fishing and $15 for hunting.

Crabbing wraps up

Crab season comes to a close Monday for all Strait of Juan de Fuca/Puget Sound/Hood Canal marine areas neighboring the North Olympic Peninsula.

Recreational crabbers using a boat must retrieve gear by one hour after sunset Monday, while shore or pier crabbers have until the end of the day to bring in that last soak.

All licensed sport crabbers must submit summer catch reports to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife by Oct. 1. This can be handled online at fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/#/login beginning Tuesday and running through Oct. 1 or by mail to CRC Unit, P.O. Box 43142, Olympia, WA 98504-3142.

Crabbers who fail to file their catch reports on time will face a $10 fine when they purchase a 2019 Puget Sound crab endorsement.

“Catch reports play a major role in determining how much crab is still available for harvest during the winter season,” said Bob Sizemore, Fish and Wildlife shellfish policy lead.

“It’s important that we receive reports from everyone licensed to fish for crab in Puget Sound — whether or not they caught crab this year.”

Sizemore said winter crab seasons for Puget Sound will be announced in early October, after completing its assessment of the summer fishery.

For more information about recreational crabbing in Puget Sound, visit wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/.

Shellfish closure

Marine biotoxins that cause Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) have recently been detected at potentially lethal concentrations in shellfish samples collected from Fort Flagler State Park and Mystery Bay State Park in Jefferson County.

PSP concentrations rose to over 1,700 micrograms per 100 grams of shellfish; the closure level is 80 micrograms.

Danger signs have been posted at high-use beaches, warning people not to consume shellfish from this area. The closure includes clams, oysters, mussels, scallops and other species of molluscan shellfish.

Crabmeat is not known to contain the biotoxin but the guts can contain unsafe levels. To be safe, clean crab thoroughly and discard the guts.

Marine biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing. People can become ill from eating shellfish contaminated with the naturally occurring marine algae containing toxins harmful to humans.

In most cases the algae that contain the toxins cannot be seen, and must be detected using laboratory testing. Therefore, recreational shellfish harvesters should check the clickable map at doh.wa.gov/ShellfishSafety.htm or call the Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Washington State.

Hunting prospects

September marks the start of hunting seasons for deer, elk, waterfowl, and upland game birds in many areas of the state. To help hunters have a successful hunting season, Fish and Wildlife has released its annual Hunting Prospects, which provide guidance and hunting information for each district.

The Hunting Prospects can be found at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/prospects/.

District 15 includes east Jefferson, Kitsap and Mason counties, while District 16 is made up of Clallam and west Jefferson counties.

The state also has launched a hunting regulations web map, which allows hunters to find permit and general season hunts based on location, date, weapon choice, and more. The web map is available at wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/.

Hunting regulations can be found in the state’s Big Game Hunting pamphlet or Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlet, each available at wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/.

Anglers meet Sept. 11

The East Jefferson Chapter of Puget Sound Anglers will meet in the Port of Port Townsend Commissioner’s office, 333 Benedict St. in Port Townsend on Tuesday, Sept. 11.

The meeting begins with a social half hour featuring coffee and cookies at 6:30 p.m. with the business meeting beginning at 7 p.m.

Anglers’ member and master beach fisherman, Dennis Broderson will discuss fishing for coho from area beaches.

The public is invited to attend.

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

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