OUTDOORS: State restricts fishing on many rivers due to drought

  • Thursday, July 16, 2015 8:05pm
  • News
Salmon and steelhead dead in 2014 because of high water temperatures and low flows in California's Klamath River. http://ospreysteelheadnews.blogspot.com/

Salmon and steelhead dead in 2014 because of high water temperatures and low flows in California's Klamath River. http://ospreysteelheadnews.blogspot.com/

By Peninsula Daily News

and The Associated Press

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thursday’s closures do not include any rivers in Region 6 (South Sound/Olympic Peninsula).

However, as noted in the news story, earlier this summer state Fish and Wildlife officials closed fishing on a section of the Sol Duc River to protect returning chinook during drought conditions. Fishing on the Elwha River west of Port Angeles is closed as part of restoration following dam removals.

Fishing closures and restrictions are listed by region at http://wdfw.wa.gov/news/jul1615b/

OLYMPIA — Drought conditions are prompting state officials to prohibit or limit fishing on more than 30 rivers across Washington state to help protect fish.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Thursday that the closures and restrictions are effective Saturday, until further notice.

Washington’s record low snowpack this winter means there hasn’t been much runoff from snowmelt to replenish streams and rivers this summer, when migrating salmon and other fish need it most.

Fish may get stranded by low river flows, making it harder for them to spawn upstream or migrate to the ocean. They can also be harmed by warm stream temperatures.

“With such extreme drought conditions in several areas of the state, we needed to take these steps to help protect vulnerable fish in waters where we have concerns,” said Craig Burley, fish program manager for the state agency.

He said officials will continue to monitor stream conditions this summer and take further action if needed.

Several rivers across the state will be closed to fishing. They include sections of the Kettle, Touchet, Wenatchee, Teanaway, Skykomish, Samish and Washougal rivers, among others.

Fishing on some rivers will also be limited to between midnight and 2 p.m. to avoid stressing fish during the hotter parts of the day.

Thursday’s decision does not include any rivers in South Puget Sound or on the Olympic Peninsula, though a section of the Sol Duc River was closed earlier this summer to protect returning chinook.

The agency said it will post emergency regulations on its website Friday (Online: WDFW Regulations: https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules).

Danger zone

Earlier this week, the Washington state-based Wild Fish Conservancy released a study that showed summer heat and low-water conditions have pushed river and stream temperatures into a danger zone for salmon.

The study analyzed seven-day average temperatures in 54 salmon and trout-bearing rivers in Washington, Oregon and California, and found widespread conditions that put fish at risk:

■ In 98 percent of all stations where temperatures were recorded, conditions were detrimental to spawning.

■ In 91 percent of all stations, conditions were detrimental to rearing young fish.

■ In 81 percent of all stations, temperatures were high enough to impede adults from migrating upstream.

■ In 69 percent of the stations, temperatures had reached levels that could be lethal to most salmon and steelhead trout, according to the study.

Because of the extreme conditions, the Wild Fish Conservancy as well as six other groups sent a paper to the governors of Washington, Oregon, California and NOAA Fisheries requesting emergency measures to close to commercial and recreational fishing in all river reaches where the temperatures exceed 64.4 degrees.

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