WDFW Looking For Comments On Salmon Options, Addresses Tribal Negotiations

WDFW is putting out a call for feedback from anglers as 2017 salmon seasons begin to be shaped, as well as addressing efforts by some fishermen to open up state-tribal negotiations in the latter stages of the annual North of Falcon process.

The agency has scheduled more than a dozen public meetings through mid-April, when the talks divvying up the harvestable Chinook, coho, sockeye, pinks and chums are scheduled to wrap up, as well as posted a series of PDFs that outline how the major rivers’ stocks are doing compared to recent years.

Those include grim tidings for North Sound fishermen because of very low returns of coho and pinks expected back to the Skagit and Stillaguamish Rivers.

The Blob, low, warm rivers and harsh fall flows are being blamed for some of the low projections, particularly pinks which over the last decade and a half have otherwise delivered an odd-year jolt to salt and river fisheries.

However, the Puget Sound hatchery coho forecast is up 73 percent, while 27 percent more clipped kings are expected as well. A little birdy gave us hope that there could be something besides silvers and humpies to fish for in the Duwamish this season.

A WDFW MAP OUTLINES HOW SELECT PUGET SOUND COHO AND CHINOOK FORECASTS THIS YEAR STACK UP AGAINST RECENT ONES. (WDFW)

You can submit your comments here.

Undoubtedly, more than a few anglers will include notes to open up the negotiations, which has also been the subject of a petition that’s received more than 2,600 electronic and paper signatures so far, according to its organizer, Perry Menchaca.

In a press release out from WDFW today, Director Jim Unsworth says he understands the frustrations, but the agency is working to keep anglers informed. Recent weeks have seen video updates from Ron Warren, head of the Fish Program, posted on the agency’s Facebook page.

Unsworth termed not meeting with the tribes because they’re not subject to state public meetings rules would be “very unproductive” for all parties.

“State and tribal co-managers are far more effective when we work together at recovering and protecting fish and wildlife in Washington,” Unsworth said. “I’m committed to working with the tribes to improve the process, make it as open and transparent as possible, and ensure our state’s resources are sustainable for future generations.”

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