Tribal and state salmon co-managers come to agreement on upcoming fishing seasons

sockeyeTreaty tribal and state salmon co-managers reached agreement late Tuesday on a package of fishing seasons that will fairly share the burden of conserving weak wild salmon stocks while providing limited harvest opportunities.

“Cooperation on both sides helped to ensure that everyone will be able to fish this year,” said Lorraine Loomis, chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.

“We are especially thankful for the leadership of former WDFW director Phil Anderson and current director Jim Unsworth in helping to meet our shared conservation challenges,” she said.

This year’s season-setting process was especially difficult because of necessary conservation measures required by ongoing habitat loss and climate change that is resulting in drought, low water levels and higher water temperatures that are lethal to salmon.

Necessary fishery reductions were especially painful for tribal and state managers this year, Loomis said, but were necessary because of uncertainty in environmental conditions. Salmon returns were poor throughout western Washington last year. Setting this year’s season was further complicated by ongoing concerns about ocean conditions and a low snowpack that is expected to lead to increased water temperatures.

“Because of these conditions we may see an increase in pre-spawning mortality of salmon this year, which required the tribal and state co-managers to be extra cautious in setting seasons,” Loomis said.