OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is accepting public comments through May 21 on a revised draft conservation plan for rockfish in Puget Sound and has scheduled a meeting to discuss the new plan with the public.
The draft conservation plan provides the framework for new strategies and actions in areas including fisheries, monitoring and education to restore and protect rockfish populations in Puget Sound.
The revised draft conservation plan is the preferred alternative among several presented in a draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), which is required by the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA).
The DEIS and draft conservation plan are available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/management/rockfish/. Those who would like a copy of the revised plan on a compact disc or in print can call (360) 902-2844.
Comments on the draft plan can be submitted by email to SEPAdesk2@dfw.wa.gov, by FAX to (360) 902-2946, or by U.S. Mail to: WDFW SEPA Desk, 600 Capitol Way N. Olympia, WA 98501-1091.
In addition, people can submit comments, as well as discuss the draft plan with WDFW staff, during a public meeting scheduled April 21 at the Port Angeles Main Library, 2210 South Peabody St. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.
Last fall, the department solicited public comments and held seven public meetings on the original draft conservation plan for rockfish in Puget Sound. WDFW also formed a Puget Sound rockfish advisory group, which has met with the department six times since December.
“After receiving comments from the public and working closely with the advisory group, we revised the plan to reflect the input we received,” said Craig Burley, WDFW fish division manager. “We want to give people another opportunity to provide additional comments as we work to finalize the conservation plan this summer.”
One notable change in the new draft involves increasing the geographic scope of the conservation plan, said Burley. The original draft plan did not include marine waters stretching from the Sekiu River west to Cape Flattery in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The revised plan includes that portion, as well as the remainder of the Strait, the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound.