State and tribal leaders have reached an agreement on Puget Sound fisheries that is expected to pave the way toward opening summer salmon seasons and waters recently closed to recreational fishing.
The co-managers agreed on this year's Puget Sound salmon seasons after several weeks of extended negotiations. Anticipated low numbers of salmon – especially coho – returning to Puget Sound made this year's negotiations challenging.
Agreement on fishing seasons is a key step in obtaining a joint federal permit required to conduct fisheries in Puget Sound waters, where some fish stocks are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) closed many Puget Sound-area waters to fishing on May 1, after the previous federal authorization to conduct fisheries expired.
"We plan to re-open those waters as soon as we have federal approval," said John Long, salmon fisheries policy lead for WDFW. "We anticipate getting the new permit within a few weeks."
More information on the fisheries that closed May 1 is available on the department's website.
In the meantime, anglers can begin making plans to fish for salmon this summer in Puget Sound-area waters, where most of those fisheries will target hatchery chinook. Salmon fisheries throughout the Puget Sound area will be constrained to protect coho salmon and other weak salmon stocks, Long said.
"Conservation is key in developing these fisheries, especially in a year with such low returns expected back to the Sound," Long said. "We worked hard to meet those conservation needs and provide fisheries that are meaningful for both state and tribal fishers."