The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is holding a series of virtual town hall meetings on coastal steelhead management beginning Oct. 20. (Chase Gunnell/WDFW)

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is holding a series of virtual town hall meetings on coastal steelhead management beginning Oct. 20. (Chase Gunnell/WDFW)

OUTDOORS: State to hold virtual town halls on coastal steelhead

First event set for Oct. 20

OLYMPIA — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fishery managers are hosting a suite of virtual public town hall meetings this fall in efforts to design 2022-23 coastal steelhead fishing seasons.

The project follows 2021 restrictions to coastal steelhead fishing with the anticipation of the lowest return ever recorded in some rivers.

“We recognize that these last several years have been tough for everyone who’s committed to coastal steelhead conservation,” said Kelly Cunningham, WDFW fish program director.

“While it’s too soon to know what next year’s season will look like, we do know that there’s a broad community who cares deeply about the challenges steelhead are facing, and we remain committed to championing engagement with the public as part of this annual pre-season process,” he said.

Anglers and other interested members of the public are invited to attend a 6 p.m. Oct. 20, virtual town hall to learn more about trends in abundance, preliminary catch estimates, monitoring efforts, upcoming opportunities to stay engaged in preseason planning, and to provide their feedback for the 2022-2023 season. Future virtual town hall meetings will occur in November ahead of season announcements later this year.

The public can also tune in to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Oct. 27 Fish Committee meeting, when committee members will hear an update on coastal steelhead preseason planning efforts. More information about this and upcoming commission coastal steelhead briefings this fall are available on the Commission webpage.

Informed with feedback from WDFW’s Ad Hoc Coastal Steelhead Advisory Group, the WDFW will also be wrapping up its Coastal Steelhead Proviso Implementation Plan this year.

As required by the state Legislature in the 2021-2023 budget, the plan will help guide the protection of steelhead for each river system of Grays Harbor, Willapa Bay and coastal Olympic Peninsula.

The group has been meeting virtually with an upcoming meeting planned in November. More information about the group and upcoming meeting details are available on WDFW’s Ad Hoc Coastal Steelhead Advisory Group webpage.

WDFW continues to operate under its Statewide Steelhead Management Plan, which requires the department to prioritize the sustainability of wild coastal steelhead runs.

For more information about the Oct. 20 virtual town hall, upcoming virtual town halls and other opportunities to provide feedback, visit WDFW’s coastal steelhead webpage at www.wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/management/steelhead/coastal.

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