OLYMPIA - Recreational and commercial crabbers shared their views on the management of Dungeness crab fisheries in Puget Sound during the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting Aug. 6-7 in Olympia.
The commission, a nine-member citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), listened to nearly two hours of public comments on a draft Dungeness crab management policy and alternatives for recreational crab fishing seasons.
Sport fishers called for an increase in recreational crabbing opportunities in Puget Sound, while commercial crabbers said significant reductions to their catch quota would harm the future of the industry.
The commission is expected to take action on a final Puget Sound Dungeness crab management policy and select a recreational crab season that would be incorporated into that policy at its Oct.1-2 public meeting in Olympia.
The draft Dungeness crab management policy is available for review at http://bit.ly/9vWE4u, and the alternatives for recreational crab fishing seasons can be found at http://bit.ly/d0mDad.
Also at the August meeting, the commission adopted 2010-11 migratory waterfowl hunting seasons. Under the new regulations, the statewide duck hunting season will be open from Oct. 16-20 and Oct. 23-Jan. 30. A special youth hunting weekend also is scheduled for Sept. 25-26.
As part of the hunting package, the commission reduced the daily limit in western Washington for scoters and long-tailed ducks from four to two, and for goldeneye from seven to two. The changes were made to address population declines for scoters and reduce potential impacts to long-tailed ducks and goldeneye. Special limits for hen mallard, pintail, redhead, canvasback, harlequin and scaup will remain the same.
Goose hunting seasons vary by management areas across the state, but most open Oct. 16 and run into January. Those seasons will be similar to last year in most areas.
However, the commission approved restrictions on the use of decoys while hunting snow geese on Fir Island in Skagit County. Another new rule prohibits hunting snow geese within 100 feet of paved public roads in Skagit County. Those changes were made to address hunter conduct and safety concerns.
Goose and duck hunting seasons approved by the commission are based on state and federal waterfowl population estimates and guidelines. Details on the waterfowl seasons will be available later this month on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations.
In other action, the commission:
- Banned the possession of lead shot on two properties in the Chehalis River Valley in Grays Harbor County to reduce the risk of wildlife health issues associated with lead shot ingestion. In addition, the commission banned the use of lead shot at the new Hoehn Road pheasant release site in Skagit County.
- Adopted amendments to state falconry rules to align them with recently adopted federal regulations.
- Restricted the importation of dead wildlife from Virginia and North Dakota. The two states have discovered chronic wasting disease (CWD) in wildlife. The restrictions, which already apply to 11 other states and two Canadian provinces, are aimed at protecting Washington’s deer and elk populations from the disease.
- Repealed the game reserve status for the Bayview Game Reserve in Skagit County, in order to increase hunter access to the shoreline. The game reserve was established in 1983 for brant geese that no longer frequent the site.
The commission also approved several land transactions, as well as amendments to the administrative appeals process for Hydraulic Project Approvals and to reporting requirements for trappers. However, the commission did not amend rules on baiting game birds.
For more information about future commission meetings, visit WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/.