THE COASTAL REGION virtual open house conducted Tuesday evening with state Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Kelly Susewind and Region 6 Director Larry Phillips was a bit of a letdown for those hoping for topics more Olympic Peninsula-focused and unrelated to razor clamming.
Now don’t get me wrong, razor clam digging is a venerated tradition and part and parcel of a true Pacific Northwest outdoors lifestyle, but the Coastal Region covers an eight-county swath of Western Washington, and well, I was hoping for a bit more discussion of salmon and steelhead.
Susewind did have a good answer for why a spring black bear special permit hunt is planned in 2021: as with all hunting opportunities, Fish and Wildlife first looks at conservation numbers and identifies animal species with stable populations before approving hunts.
He did ask that bear hunters do their best to avoid shooting sows with cubs to keep those population numbers stable.
But those spring black bear hunts are not being held in the Coastal Region, with most being held across the Cascades. And other questions like why Dungeness crabbing seasons are not being held in Marine Area 10 and 11 this fall also were geographically off target.
I would have submitted a question or two; my most pressing is if the department plans on fighting for a return of winter blackmouth fisheries off Sekiu, Port Angeles and Port Townsend in 2022.
Holding another Coastal Region Open House with a more Olympic Peninsula focus would be appreciated. There will be a steelhead virtual town hall Tuesday night, but that appears to be focused on low escapement for Chehalis River steelhead.
To watch the Coastal Region Open House, visit https://tinyurl.com/PDN-CROpenHouse.
Steelhead town hall
Steelhead forecasts and declining populations will be discussed at Tuesday’s virtual town hall hosted by Fish and Wildlife.
The event will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Registration is available at tinyurl.com/PDN-Steelhead Forum.
“State and tribal fisheries managers are projecting another year of low steelhead returns along much of the Washington Coast,” said James Losee, regional program manager for the Coast and Puget Sound region. “We want to make sure we’re hearing from local anglers and steelhead enthusiasts as we begin to consider options for protecting this iconic state fish while balancing recreational angling opportunities.”
Fishery managers will consider this feedback in preparation of their work with tribal co-managers to plan future fishing opportunities.
Razor clam update
The state’s ocean beaches will remain closed to razor clam harvest until at least Dec. 12 after test results on razor clams dug at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks and Copalis indicate levels of domoic acid that exceed the threshold set by state public health officials for safe consumption.
Those levels have dropped somewhat from earlier this month but not enough for safe digging.
To date in 2020, razor clam diggers have made more than 80,000 trips and harvested nearly 1.2 million clams per Fish and Wildlife estimates.
The status of digs scheduled beyond Dec. 12 depend on more clam testing that will be held the first week of December.
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or [email protected] news.com.