sockeye fishing

Phil Renfro of Mount Vernon (front) gathers his gear while fishing for sockeye salmon on the banks of the Skagit River in Mount Vernon in 2017.

The state Department of Fish & Wildlife is inviting the public to help determine when salmon fishing seasons should be held this year.

The state agency will launch the public participation process Wednesday at its annual statewide salmon forecasting meeting.

The meeting will be held 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Olympia at the Lacey Community Center, 6729 Pacific Ave. SE, where Fish & Wildlife will present initial salmon return forecasts compiled by state and tribal fish biologists.

That meeting will be the first of several scheduled throughout the state.

Meetings that may pertain to Skagit River fisheries will be held in Olympia, Sequim, Westport and Mill Creek, according to Fish & Wildlife’s website.

Ron Warren, head of the state’s fish program, said in a news release that fishery managers rely on input from recreational fishermen, commercial fishmen and others to develop each year’s fishing seasons.

To expand its reach to the public this year, Fish & Wildlife plans to provide video of some meetings. Beginning in mid-March, public comments will be accepted online regarding fishery proposals developed over the next month.

The proposals will be posted and comments accepted at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon.

The annual process for setting salmon fishing seasons is called North of Falcon.

The state and tribes that co-manage Washington fisheries coordinate fishing seasons with the Pacific Fishery Management Council, which determines ocean fisheries for the area between 3 and 200 miles off the coast.

The council, state and tribes are expected to agree on and set 2019 salmon fishery seasons during an April 11-15 meeting in Rohnert Park, California.

The dietary needs of the endangered Southern Resident orca whale population will be considered during the process, according to the release. The orcas, which have received increased attention in recent years, rely heavily on declining chinook salmon populations for food.

— Reporter Kimberly Cauvel: 360-416-2199, kcauvel@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Kimberly_SVH, Facebook.com/bykimberlycauvel

Load comments