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Fish and Wildlife Commission amends four sportfishing rules

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission modified the annual catch limit for white sturgeon and amended three other recently-adopted rules during a conference call today.

The commission, a nine-member citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), voted to change the annual catch limit for white sturgeon to two fish per year in Washington’s waters beginning May 1. The rule, as previously adopted, would have limited anglers to one sturgeon per year.

The commission did, however, keep in place a new rule that prohibits retention of white sturgeon by anglers fishing in the lower Columbia River below Bonneville Dam, the Washington coast, Puget Sound and their tributaries beginning Jan. 1, 2014. Catch-and-release fishing for the species will be allowed in those areas.

That rule is part of a package of nearly 70 sportfishing rule changes the commission approved at its March 1 meeting in Moses Lake.

Miranda Wecker, commission chair, said today’s conference call was an opportunity for commissioners to revisit some of those decisions. “After further discussion, the commission voted to amend some of the changes made earlier this month,” she said.

 

The commission also approved the following amendments to rules adopted March 1:

  • The fishery for six-gill, seven-gill and thresher sharks in Washington’s waters will be closed, except to people with a scientific collection permit issued by WDFW. Permit holders will be allowed to catch and release those sharks. The previously adopted rule would have allowed catch-and-release fishing for all anglers.
  • The fishing season for cabezon in Marine Area 4 will be open year-round, while the season in marine areas 5-11 and 13 will be open May 1-Nov. 30. The previously adopted rule would have reduced the fishing season for cabezon in all those areas to May 1 through June 15. The commission also directed the department to initiate a separate rule process to seek public comments and allow for further commission discussion on restricting the cabezon season to May 1 through June 15 in those areas.

 

The commission did, however, keep a new rule that will reduce the daily catch limit of cabezon to one fish in those marine areas and prohibit the retention of cabezon measuring less than 18 inches in length.

 

  • Anglers can retain all rockfish except canary and yelloweye as part of their daily rockfish limit in Marine Area 4 west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line. The previously adopted rule would have only allowed the retention of black, blue and yellowtail rockfish in that area.

 

Most of the rule changes adopted by the commission take effect May 1. Summaries of the rule changes, as adopted, will be available on WDFW’s website later this month.

 

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