Monday, July 22, 2024

WDFW invites public participation in annual salmon season-setting process

Washington’s North of Falcon process kicks off March 1 with statewide salmon forecast hybrid meeting in Olympia


OLYMPIA – Fishery managers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) have scheduled numerous opportunities for the public to participate in setting state-managed salmon seasons in 2024-2025, beginning with a hybrid statewide forecast meeting on Friday, March 1.

That meeting, part of the season-setting process known as North of Falcon, is just one of more than a dozen in-person and virtual meetings scheduled in the next two months to discuss salmon fisheries across Washington. North of Falcon refers to waters north of Oregon’s Cape Falcon, which marks the southern border of management of Washington’s salmon stocks, including Puget Sound, Strait of Juan de Fuca, Columbia River, and coastal areas.

WDFW will consider input from recreational and commercial fishers and others interested in salmon fishing while state fishery managers partner with tribal co-managers to craft the 2024-2025 fisheries.

“We know Washington anglers look forward to salmon seasons each year, and the season-setting process is a crucial time for the public to engage as we work alongside tribal co-managers,” said WDFW Director Kelly Susewind. “The process is about cooperation and collaboration. We’re committed to providing sustainable fishing opportunities balanced with salmon conservation needs. We are continually working to improve fisheries management in the interest of salmon, recreational and commercial fishers, and the communities that depend on the salmon resource.”

"Every year, the treaty tribes in western Washington engage in government-to-government negotiations with our state co-managers during the North of Falcon process, and every year it gets more challenging because salmon populations continue to decline," said Ed Johnstone, chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. "This also is a weak brood year for coho, which could be a limiting factor in planning fisheries. We know that harvest management alone won't recover salmon. To rebuild weak salmon stocks, we all have to work together to combat ongoing habitat loss, marine mammal predation and the impacts of climate change.”

WDFW will present initial salmon forecasts developed by WDFW and tribal co-manager fisheries biologists on Friday, March 1 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Office Building 2 Auditorium, 1115 Washington Street S.E. in Olympia. The main session of the March 1 meeting will be available to watch via Zoom webinar. Participants must register in advance.

WDFW and tribal forecasters use a suite of scientific data, including watershed sampling and monitoring, ocean indicators, and previous year returns, to estimate the number of salmon and steelhead that will return to Northwest waters, and how many fish will be available for harvest.

In addition to attending meetings, the public can participate in the state’s process including:

  • Online comments: The public can now provide general comments on potential fisheries at WDFW’s North of Falcon public input webpage. Additional comment opportunities on specific seasons and fisheries will be available as forecasts and proposed season summaries are made available.
  • Virtual meetings and daily briefings: During the final days of negotiations, state fish managers plan to hold briefings each day, which will be available via virtual meetings. 

For a full timeline of the state’s North of Falcon process, including a public meeting schedule with opportunities to participate in meetings and provide public feedback, visit WDFW’s North of Falcon public meetings webpage. Any additional meetings will be added as they are scheduled. WDFW-hosted meetings will be held in-person or in virtual and hybrid formats for the public to watch or listen. Visit our WDFW North of Falcon FAQs and Glossary Information for key terms and suggested resources.

This process occurs in tandem with Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) public meetings to establish fishing seasons for salmon in ocean waters three to 200 miles off the Pacific coast. The PFMC will discuss preliminary options for ocean fisheries during its March 6-11 meeting and is expected to adopt final fishing seasons and harvest levels at its April 6-11 meeting. More information on meetings is available on PFMC’s website.


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