Continued low returns of some key chinook salmon stocks are expected to limit numerous Washington salmon fisheries in the upcoming season, state fishery managers say.
Summer chinook fisheries are expected to begin July 1 in four areas, including Marine Area 7 (the San Juan Islands).
“This was another difficult year with so many depressed stocks as a result of lost and damaged habitat,” Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission Chairwoman Lorraine Loomis said in an announcement released by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. “I am especially encouraged by efforts this year to include habitat recovery in fisheries planning. Salmon continue to decline because their habitat is being lost faster than it can be restored and protected. Working together to change that trend is the most important thing we can do for salmon recovery.”
Low returns of Stillaguamish and mid-Hood Canal chinook, as well as Snohomish coho, limited a number of Puget Sound fisheries in 2019 and created even greater constraints in 2020 — including closing fishing for winter chinook in the San Juan Islands and six other marine areas, state Fish and Wildlife reported.
In addition, state Fish and Wildlife is delaying several harvesting and hunting seasons to control the spread of COVID-19.
Extended closures include all recreational fishing, shellfish harvesting, spot shrimp harvesting, and the spring bear and turkey season openers.
If the department is able to open spring bear and turkey seasons on May 4, spring bear hunters would still have until May 31 or June 15, depending on the location, to use their permits before the intended season closure dates for those hunts, state Fish and Wildlife reported. Likewise, spring turkey hunters would have 28 days of hunting during the spring season, plus a fall season that is predicted to be robust.
Refunds for licenses and permits, if initiated before opening day, are available.
The department does not regulate shed antler hunting, yet reminds the public that this activity is not allowed on state lands while the closures are in place.