THE FOLLOWING ARE WDFW, ODFW AND PFMC PRESS RELEASES
Washington salmon fishing seasons tentatively set for 2023-24
OLYMPIA – Anglers in Washington can expect similar salmon fishing opportunities this year compared to 2022, with some improved opportunities in the ocean driven by better Chinook forecasts and another large coho return, state fishery managers announced.
The 2023-24 salmon fishing seasons, cooperatively developed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and treaty tribal co-managers, were tentatively set Thursday at a week-long Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) meeting held in Foster City, Calif.
“These seasons were crafted carefully to ensure conservation goals are achieved for salmon populations, especially those listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA),” said WDFW Director Kelly Susewind. “There are improvements in this season’s forecast, and we have developed a number of good fishing opportunities in Washington on healthy stocks.”
Negotiations between WDFW and tribes this year were guided in part by the Puget Sound Harvest Management Plan, which is expected to provide long-term fishery guidance for Puget Sound. The National Marine Fisheries Service announced in February that the plan was sufficient to proceed with formal review.
“The treaty tribes and our state co-manager have the same goal—to provide sustainable harvest opportunities while meeting conservation objectives and ensuring there will be salmon for the next seven generations,” said Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (NWIFC) Chairman Ed Johnstone. “Conservation is our guiding principle and more needs to be done on all fronts to recover salmon from historically low numbers. Tribes have done a lot of work to restore and protect habitat and rebuild salmon populations. All of our efforts now must focus on the effects of climate change, ongoing habitat loss and marine mammal predation on salmon.”
Season recommendations now move forward for approval by the National Marine Fisheries Service and final rulemaking, including additional opportunity for public comment and consideration of those comments.
The Puget Sound pink salmon prediction is about 3.95 million and similar to the actual 3.77 million return in 2021. Pink salmon will remain part of daily catch limits in marine fisheries and limits in freshwater areas will be watershed-specific.
The Stillaguamish wild Chinook forecast is up from 2022 but remains at historical low levels and conservation limits for this stock continue to constrain Puget Sound fishery opportunities. Stillaguamish continues to be limiting to the San Juan Islands (Marine Area 7), and the Chinook fishery will look similar to last year. Anglers will have opportunities to target forecast robust returns of coho and pink salmon. Managers have proposed a three-day hatchery Chinook and marked coho fishery from July 13-15 (additional days may be added based on in season monitoring of the fishery), followed by a coho-directed fishery starting Aug. 1.
“We must carefully plan and implement fisheries in Puget Sound to ensure that we limit our impact on ESA-listed Puget Sound Chinook to allowable levels,” said Kyle Adicks, intergovernmental salmon manager with WDFW. “We work with the public each spring to plan fisheries that spread the limited fishing opportunity available for Chinook and other species around the marine and freshwater areas of Puget Sound.”
For coho, the Puget Sound hatchery and wild forecasts have generally increased overall. The Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) planned opener for marked coho is July 31-Sept. 17 and non-select coho is Sept. 18-30. The Marine Area 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) planned opener for non-select coho is Aug. 1-Sept. 24. In Marine Area 5 (Sekiu-Pillar Point) and Marine Area 6 (East Strait of Juan de Fuca) a non-select coho fishery planned for Oct. 1-15.
Winter Chinook fisheries will look similar to last year in Puget Sound, with some Chinook retention opportunity planned in March and April of 2024 in Marine Area 5 (Sekiu), Marine Area 10 (Seattle-Bremerton) and Marine Area 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island).
Most Puget Sound marine areas will once again open for a planned summer salmon season beginning in July or August, with June 1 openers currently planned for Marine Areas 10 and 11.
Summer salmon fisheries on the Columbia River are expected to be slightly improved compared to last year, with fishing planned from the Astoria-Megler bridge to Highway 395 bridge in Pasco and below Bonneville Dam scheduled to open June 16 through July 31. Sockeye retention is expected to be allowed in the daily salmonid bag limit beginning June 16.
Fall fisheries from Buoy 10 to the Highway 395 bridge in Pasco is planned for an Aug. 1 opener, with different dates by area for Chinook and coho, and includes steelhead restrictions throughout the river. Another strong coho run is expected and the Chinook run size is better than the 2022 forecast but below the actual return and should provide for some good fishing opportunities.
Washington’s ocean salmon fisheries reflect an improved forecast for some key Chinook stocks and a second consecutive year of large forecasts for hatchery coho. Fishery managers agreed during this week’s PFMC meeting to recreational ocean quotas of 39,000 Chinook and 159,600 marked coho.
Neah Bay (Marine Area 4) and La Push (Marine Area 3) will open for salmon retention beginning June 17, followed by Ilwaco (Marine Area 1) and Westport-Ocean Shores (Marine Area 2) on June 24. All areas are scheduled to remain open until Sept. 30 or until quotas are met, with species and size restrictions dependent on the area.
In Grays Harbor (Marine Area 2-2), the Humptulips North Bay planned salmon season opens Aug. 1 for retention of hatchery Chinook and coho, and the East Grays Harbor planned fishery opens Sept. 16 for coho retention only. In Willapa Bay (Marine Area 2-1), the planned coho and hatchery Chinook season opens Aug. 1. The Willapa Bay Control Zone opens for salmon in 2023.
For information about the science behind salmon season-setting in Washington, watch “Sound Management: Conserving Pacific Northwest salmon through cooperation” on the WDFW’s YouTube channel.
4/6/2023 OCEAN SALMON ACTION NOTICE: The Pacific Fishery Management Council finalized their recommendations for 2023 ocean salmon seasons on Thursday, April 6. Copies of the adopted seasons will be available at the PMFC’s website soon (www.pcouncil.org) in Preseason Report III. Graphics of the recreational and commercial troll seasons have already been made available on www.dfw.state.or.us/mrp/salmon/. Seasons from May 16 on are not official until final approval by the Secretary of Commerce, and after adoption by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission for waters within 3 nautical miles of shore.
Sacramento River fall Chinook and Klamath River fall Chinook salmon stocks are severely constraining all seasons from Cape Falcon through California. The primary drivers affecting these populations of Chinook salmon are the direct result of the severe drought in California. To address the critically low abundances of these two stocks, the Council has recommended a complete shutdown of all salmon seasons in California, and all Chinook salmon seasons in Oregon south of Cape Falcon prior to September 1. By September 1 most of these stocks have left the area from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt. and Oregon’s coastal fall Chinook have begun staging near the coast where they will comprise majority of the catch.
This year’s forecast for Columbia Basin hatchery coho salmon represents the third consecutive year of strong abundance in as many years, and recreational coho quotas and seasons reflect this trend. North of Cape Falcon, Chinook quotas were most restricted by tule fall Chinook from the Columbia River, while the most constraining coho were various stocks in Puget Sound. The limiting coho stock for fisheries south of Cape Falcon is the Oregon Coastal Natural coho again this year, and for Chinook it is both Sacramento River fall Chinook and Klamath River fall Chinook.
Recreational Season Summary: Ocean waters off the Columbia River from Leadbetter Pt., Washington to Cape Falcon, Oregon will be open for an all-salmon season North of Cape Falcon beginning June 24 and continue through the earlier of September 30, or quota with a hatchery mark selective coho quota of 79,800. There is also a Chinook guideline in this area of 11,490. The daily bag limit will be two salmon, but no more than one Chinook and all coho must have a healed adipose fin clip. Minimum length for Chinook is 22” and the coho minimum length is 16”.
The recreational hatchery mark selective coho salmon season from Cape Falcon to the OR/CA Border will open on June 17 and continue through the earlier of August 31 or the quota of 110,000 adipose fin-clipped coho. Chinook retention is prohibited through the end of August.
There will be a non-selective coho season from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt. opening on September 1, and will be open seven days per week through the earlier of September 30 or the quota of 25,000 non-mark selective coho. The daily bag limit is two fish, only one of which may be a Chinook. The open days in September may be adjusted in season. Coho minimum length of 16” and Chinook minimum length of 24”.
Retention of one Chinook salmon per day will be allowed beginning September 1 and continue through October 31 in the area from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt. The season will only be open inside of the 40-fathom management line from October 1-31. Chinook minimum length of 24”.
All recreational anglers are limited to no more than 2 single point barbless hook per line when fishing for salmon, and for any species if salmon are on board the vessel.
Commercial Troll Season Summary: The commercial troll salmon seasons north of Cape Falcon will have limited Chinook quotas again this year. The fishery will be managed by quotas, season length, and vessel landing week (Thurs.-Weds.) limits. The early all salmon except coho season opens May 1 and will continue through the earlier of June 29 or the overall quota of 26,000 Chinook salmon, or the Leadbetter Pt. to Cape Falcon subarea cap of 6,040 Chinook. The early season will have a 60 Chinook per vessel per landing week (Thurs-Wed) limit. Chinook minimum length of 27”.
The summer all salmon fishery north of Cape Falcon will open on July 1 and continue through the earlier of the overall Chinook quota of 13,000 Chinook or quota of 30,400 fin-clipped coho. Landing week (Thurs-Wed) limit of 150 adipose fin-clipped coho per vessel. Minimum lengths are 27” for Chinook, and 16” for coho.
Vessels must land in this area or into Garibaldi. Mandatory call-in requirements within an hour of landing are in place for all troll salmon seasons in this area. Vessels must call in to (541)857-2546 with vessel name, vessel number, number of harvested salmon by species, port of landing, destination of fish, and estimated time of delivery. The mandatory report can also be made by email to email@example.com. Oregon licensed vessels may only fish south of Leadbetter Pt., Washington.
NOTE: Any boats fishing in the area north of Cape Falcon and retaining Chinook that are greater than 27” but less than 28” must land all salmon into ports north of Cape Falcon. Boats may only land Chinook in this size range into Garibaldi if the season south of Cape Falcon has been closed more than 48 hours.
In the area from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mt. seasons will not open until September 1. Beginning September 1 and continuing through October 31, this area will be open for Chinook salmon with a landing week (Thurs-Wed) limit of 75 Chinook per vessel. For the period of October 1-31, the open area will be limited to shoreward of the 40-fathom management line. This area will also be open for non-mark selective coho from September 1 through the earlier of September 30, or a non-mark selective quota of 10,000 coho with a landing week (Thurs-Wed) limit of 75 coho per vessel. Minimum lengths are 28” for Chinook, and 16” for coho.
Other Information: Both commercial troll salmon fishermen and recreational anglers should review the full regulations prior to participating in the ocean salmon fisheries. Single point barbless hooks are required in all ocean salmon seasons. Commercial salmon trollers are reminded that they are restricted to no more than 4 spreads per wire for all seasons from Cape Falcon to the OR/CA border.
PACIFIC FISHERY MANAGEMENT COUNCIL ADOPTS 2023 WEST COAST OCEAN SALMON SEASONS
Foster City, California—The Pacific Fishery Management Council has adopted recommendations for ocean salmon fishing along the Pacific west coast in 2023. The seasons provide recreational and commercial opportunities in northern areas of the coast but include significant closures in southern portions of the coast to achieve conservation goals for the numerous salmon stocks.
The recommendations will be forwarded to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for approval by May 16, 2023. Forecasts for West Coast Chinook and coho stocks in 2023 are a mixed bag, with some low and high points when compared to last year. Federal requirements to conserve Fraser River (Canada) coho, lower Columbia River natural tule1 fall Chinook, Klamath River fall Chinook and Sacramento River fall Chinook will be the main constraints for this year’s ocean salmon fisheries.
“The forecasts for Chinook returning to California rivers this year are near record lows,” said Council Chair Marc Gorelnik. “The poor conditions in the freshwater environment that contributed to these low forecasted returns are unfortunately not something that the Council can, or has authority to, control.”
Washington and Northern Oregon (north of Cape Falcon)
Fisheries north of Cape Falcon (in northern Oregon) are limited mainly by the need to constrain catch of lower Columbia River natural tule Chinook. Additionally, two natural coho stocks meet the criteria for either overfished (Queets River) or not overfished/rebuilding (Strait of Juan de Fuca), which is also a concern when structuring 2023 fisheries.
North of Cape Falcon, the overall non-tribal total allowable catch is 78,000 Chinook coastwide (compared to 58,000 last year) and 190,000 marked hatchery coho (compared to 75,000 last year).
Tribal ocean fisheries north of Cape Falcon
The Council addresses the “federally recognized fishing rights” of coastal tribes as part of its annual process to adopt ocean salmon recommendations for tribal ocean fisheries north of Cape Falcon. The Council adopted the seasons as proposed by the tribes. The tribal ocean fishery structure is similar to past years with a spring season focused on Chinook and a summer fishery focused on both Chinook and coho. The quotas are 45,000 Chinook salmon (compared to 40,000 last year), and 57,000 coho (compared to 52,000 last year).
Commercial ocean season
The non-tribal ocean commercial fishery north of Cape Falcon includes the traditional seasons in the spring (May-June) for Chinook and in the summer (July-September) for Chinook and coho. The Chinook quota is 39,000 (compared to 27,000 last year) and the coho quota is 30,400 marked coho (compared to 32,000 last year).
Sport ocean season
The ocean sport fishery north of Cape Falcon opens in mid-June to late-June and continues through September, unless salmon quotas are met earlier. The Chinook quota is 39,000 (compared to 27,000 last year) and the coho quota is 159,600 marked coho, (compared to 168,000 last year)
Oregon (south of Cape Falcon) and California
Fisheries south of Cape Falcon are limited mainly by the low abundance forecasts for Klamath River and Sacramento River fall Chinook. This year’s season is significantly reduced or closed to fishing to keep fishing impacts minimal given the critically low abundance forecasts for these key California Chinook stocks of concern.
Sport ocean season
While the Sacramento River and Klamath River fall Chinook abundances are forecasted to be very low, Oregon’s coho populations are forecasted to be similar to last year.
Oregon ocean recreational fisheries from Cape Falcon to the OR/CA border include a mark-selective coho fishing season starting June 17 and continuing through August. The quota is 110,000 marked coho (compared to 100,000 last year). In addition, a nonmark-selective coho fishery is scheduled in the area between Cape Falcon and Humbug Mountain for the month of September with a 25,000 non marked coho quota (compared to 17,000 last year). October will be open for all salmon except coho and open shoreward of the 40-fathom regulatory line.
California ocean recreational fisheries in all areas from the Oregon/California border to the U.S./Mexico border are closed given the low abundance forecasts for both Klamath and Sacramento River fall Chinook.
Commercial ocean season Oregon ocean commercial fisheries from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain will open September 1 and continue through October. A limited coho season will also occur in September with a 10,000 non marked coho quota. Beginning October 1, the fishery is open shoreward of the 40-fathom regulatory line.
All commercial fisheries in both the Oregon and California Klamath Management Zones are closed for the 2023 season.
California ocean salmon commercial fisheries in all areas from the Oregon/California border to the U.S./Mexico border are closed given the low abundance forecasts for both Klamath and Sacramento River fall Chinook.
Southern Resident Killer Whales
The Council worked collaboratively with NMFS to understand the effects of Council-area fisheries on Southern Resident killer whales, which are listed as endangered. Based in part on information provided by the Council’s ad-hoc Southern Resident Killer Whale Workgroup, the Council amended the Pacific Salmon Fishery Management Plan to address the needs of the whales while providing salmon harvest opportunities. As part of the amendment, the Council adopted a Chinook abundance threshold for the North of Falcon area, below which additional action (management measures) would be required when considering ocean salmon seasons. The threshold value is 623,000 Chinook. The Chinook abundance is projected to be well above this threshold in 2023.
“This has been another challenging year for the Council, its advisors, fishery stakeholders, and the public, to say the least,” said Council Executive Director Merrick Burden. “The economic impact of closing a good portion of the west coast ocean salmon fishery will negatively impact the people that participate in the fishery, and the small businesses in coastal communities that rely on the salmon fishery.”
The Council developed three management alternatives in early March for public review and further analysis. The review process included input from tribal, Federal, and state fishery scientists and fishing industry members; public testimony; and three public hearings hosted in person by the Council. At its April meeting (April 1-7), the Council consulted with scientists, heard public comments, revised preliminary alternatives as necessary, and chose a final alternative.
The decision must be approved by NMFS. Coastal states will adopt fishery regulations for state-managed waters that are compatible with the Council’s actions.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council is one of eight regional fishery management councils established by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 for the purpose of managing fisheries 3-200 miles offshore of the U.S. coastline. The Pacific Council recommends management measures for fisheries off the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington.