OLYMPIA – State fishery managers will hold a public workshop Jan. 23 in Raymond to solicit public comments on priorities for upcoming sport and commercial salmon-fishing seasons in Willapa Bay.
The workshop, sponsored by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. at the Raymond Elks Club on 326 Third St.
Annette Hoffmann, the regional WDFW fish manager, said the department is currently seeking guidance on how to reconcile priorities for salmon-fishing opportunities established in the state’s Willapa Bay Salmon Management Policy.
That policy, approved by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in 2015, gives recreational fisheries priority in the Willapa Bay chinook harvest while designating commercial fisheries as the priority for coho fisheries in the bay.
To meet conservation objectives, WDFW requires both fisheries to release any wild chinook salmon they encounter and manages fishing seasons to hold mortality rates for those fish within a prescribed limit.
Hoffmann said the department has asked the commission to provide greater clarity on ways to achieve those priorities and wants to involve participants in Willapa Bay’s recreational and commercial fisheries in the discussion.
“The commission makes the policy, but we also want to hear from those directly involved in these fisheries,” she said.
Hoffmann said state fishery managers will convey comments heard at the workshop to the commission during a public meeting scheduled Feb. 9-10 in Olympia. The department will then look to the commission to provide guidance in setting fishing seasons for Willapa Bay in 2018 and future years.