Wednesday, June 7, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Puget Sound Crisis Brings Salmon Fishing Closure

SEATTLE (CN) — All salmon fishing in Puget Sound will close on May 1 unless federal officials issue last-minute permits.

State and tribal fisheries managers failed to reach an agreement Wednesday for this year's Puget Sound fishing season, which runs from May 1 to April 30, 2017.

"We had one last round of negotiations in hopes of ensuring salmon seasons in Puget Sound this year," Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Jim Unsworth said in a statement.

"Regrettably, we could not agree on fisheries that were acceptable to both parties."

The Pacific Fishery Management Council, which includes state and tribal officials, set commercial and recreational fishing guidelines for coastal salmon fishing earlier this month. Talks broke down between the state and tribes over Puget Sound take.

Tribal fisheries submitted their own plan to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries for approval last week and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife now will seek a separate permit.

The NOAA will have the final say on both plans.

Unsworth said the department is unsure if it will receive the permit in time for Puget Sound salmon fishing this season.

"We want to work with the tribes to address long-term resource management concerns, such as restoring habitat and increasing hatchery fish production," Unsworth said. "The breakdown in this year's negotiations demonstrates the need for a change to the process of setting salmon-fishing seasons."

The council called expectations for wild Coho runs off Puget Sound "disastrous," due to climate change and El Niño-related warm ocean water.


Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.