Washington authorities announced Thursday an agreement that will allow some activities that were not allowed before in Puget Sound, the deep inlet of the Pacific Ocean, like recreational fishing. This deal came out as a result of negotiations between the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, local tribes, the National Marine Fisheries Service and anglers in the South Sound.

However, the opening for recreational and nontribal commercial fishing translates into reducing the commercial fisheries’ activities. Anglers will be affected by the closure of some inlets. They will close to sustain them as recreational fishing centers. The Puyallup River, Tacoma-Vashon Island, Piers and Nisqually River are among those that will be closed for a few months.

Fishing in the Puget Sound
Authorities announced an agreement that will allow some activities that were not allowed before in Puget Sound, like recreational fishing. Credit: Spokesman.com

About Puget Sound

The bight is along the northwestern coast of Washington on the Pacific Ocean. The sound is somehow protected since, in the last 30 years, species have suffered climatic conditions that have diminished the population of several animals like forage fish, marine birds, orcas, salmonids, bottom fish and harbor porpoise. Some petitions were made in order to add species to the Endangered Species Act.

Considering the situation of the sound, fishing practice changed and the management of the area limited fisheries’ activities.

Tribes are also involved in the problem since Puget Sound has had a historical presence of tribes in Puyallup, Sahewamish, Nisqually and other areas. Puget Sound Salish tribes are a community that lives in the area and cares about the environmental circumstances more than occasional visitors. Their vision was to protect the marine areas considering the cultural relevance they have to the tribes, a posture that had to interact with the need for commercial exploitation and the tourism development of the sound.

Closures are meant to protect Coho salmon, an endangered species 

This anadromous fish, part of the salmon family, is the main species threatened in the sound. Coho fisheries are then, the first activity that was limited at Puget Sound. Since there are not enough coho to commercialize most marine areas are closed. The primary goal of the closures for fisheries is to reduce impact at the wildlife of the sound. Hood Canal is the only marine area that will remain open to Coho fisheries.

However, some closures are most likely to be for a limited amount of time. Some of the rivers will be closed to recreational salmon fishing the entire year while some others will open for a few months to fisheries. Carbon River will open for fishing for 15 days.

The timeline of the closures is designed to protect the Coho and other salmon species natural process of reproduction and movement in marine areas, to avoid fishing during seasons where the amount of fish is not enough to sustain the species in the next seasons.

Even when arrangements have been made and agreements in the exploitation on the sound are being executed, some claims are still under discussion. The Skokomish Tribe states that public access must be prohibited to the Skokomish River, since, according to them, the river belongs to the Reservation. This would not be the first section of marine areas that would be closed, but authorities are still evaluating the claim.

Source: News Tribune