Washington – After the 7-weak closure, Puget Sound marine areas, rivers, and lakes are now open for fishing. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said on Friday that the federal government approved the opening of the Puget Sound areas after its closing to protect endangered salmon stocks.

The waters were opened after 2 months delay and many anglers are frustrated. John Long, who is a state Fish and Wildlife salmon policy coordinator, said in a statement that he understands the discontent of the people who wanted to start the season on time, but he says that the opening puts the year’s salmon fisheries back on track.

The state and Puget Sound tribes have always shared management of the fisheries. Image courtesy of Tristan Baurick / Kitsap Sun
The state and Puget Sound tribes have always shared management of the fisheries. Image courtesy: Tristan Baurick / Kitsap Sun 

Marine areas in Tulalip Bubble Fishery and south-central, southern Puget Sounds have opened but hatchery the chinook salmon is the only species allow to catch, and fishermen are obliged to release all coho salmon and wild, unmarked chinook.

The state and Puget Sound tribes have always shared management of the fisheries, but they could not get to a middle point regarding the annual catch limits during the usual season-setting meetings this spring.

Talks between the tribes and the state of Washington started in mid-April. The issue was to reduce fishing seasons to focus on helping conserved the wild coho and chinook salmon. Both species are on the federal list of endangered species act.

Tribal officials asked to concentrate on restoring salmon runs and its habitat in Puget Sound.

An announcement was then released and stated that both parties will ask separately federal permits. This statement concerned the angler community because the 2016-17 fishing in Puget Sound could not happen or could be postponed.

After several days, the state and the tribes came to an agreement on May 26, and fishermen need to check the new fishing regulations. These regulations apply since Thursday.

During negotiations, the state agreed to increase monitoring during the catch and release of salmon in central Puget Sound during June and in northern Puget Sound in July. Several marine areas were agreed to be close under certain conditions. Central and northern Puget Sound will be close after the chinook quota has been reached and south-central Puget Sound will be closed during winter salmon fishery, from November to January. Puyallup River will not have a sport-fishing season during the chinook salmon arrival.

The tribal members agreed to reduce the coho salmon netting time on the Puyallup River, and the Makah will reduce their winter fishery off the western edge of the Strait of San of Juan de Fuca, from a quota of 8,500 catch to 4,500.

During this season the overall fishing quota is 35 thousand chinook and 18,900 hatchery marked coho. Last years the quotas were 64 thousand for the chinook and 150,800 for the coho.

The recreational salmon fishing season begins in July with new regulations as well.

In spite of the good news, many other marine areas in Puget Sound have extended its closures until late summer and fall because of the current situation of the endangered coho. Among these close areas are Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish, from September 1 to October 31.

Source: The Seattle Times