OLYMPIA — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved restrictions on the use of lead fishing tackle at 13 lakes with nesting common loons during its Dec. 2-4 meeting 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), adopted a proposal that prohibits the use of lead weights and jigs that measure 1 ½ inches or less along the longest axis at 12 lakes.
Those 12 lakes include Ferry and Swan lakes in Ferry County; Calligan and Hancock lakes in King County; Bonaparte, Blue and Lost lakes in Okanogan County; Big Meadow, South Skookum and Yocum lakes in Pend Oreille County; Pierre Lake in Stevens County; and Hozomeen Lake in Whatcom County.
In addition, the commission banned the use of flies containing lead at Long Lake in Ferry County.
The restrictions, which take effect May 1, are designed to protect loons from being poisoned by ingesting small lead fishing gear lost by anglers.
The commission held a public hearing on the issue in October, when it reviewed the findings of a WDFW advisory group established to assess scientific studies on risks posed to loons that ingest lead fishing tackle and recommend ways to minimize those risks.
Additional information on loons and lead tackle is available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/loons/ .
Also during the December meeting, WDFW Director Phil Anderson told commissioners that he intends to delay a new rule – originally set to begin Jan. 1 – that would require anglers to use barbless hooks while fishing for salmon and steelhead from the mouth of the Columbia River upstream to McNary Dam.
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission has not adopted that regulation and delaying the rule is necessary to maintain concurrent fishing regulations on the Columbia River with Oregon, he said. The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the rule earlier in the year.
In other business, the Washington commission held a public hearing on proposed changes in state fishing rules on a variety of issues. The proposals are available on the department’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/ .
However, the commission voted to stop considering several sport and commercial fishing rule proposals to comply with Gov. Chris Gregoire’s recent executive order that suspends and limits the rule making process. Executive Order 10-06, available online at http://www.governor.wa.gov/execorders/default.asp , is designed to help small businesses and local governments as the state continues its economic recovery.
A list of fishing rule proposals that the commission will no longer consider is available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/regulations/fishing_rule_suspension.pdf .
In addition, the commission held public hearings on:
- Management alternatives for bottomfish in Catch Area 4 (western Strait of Juan de Fuca), which are available on the department’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/marinearea4/ .
- Updates to the lower Columbia River white sturgeon management policy.
- Proposed amendments to rules for buying and selling of game.
- Amendments to rules governing the removal of minerals, wood and artifacts from WDFW lands.
- crab fisheries. Those changes reflect a new policy recently adopted by the commission that expands sport fishing opportunities for Dungeness crab in Puget Sound.
In other news, December’s meeting was the last for Ken Chew, whose term as commissioner expires at the end of the year. He is not seeking reappointment. The retired University of Washington professor of fisheries has served on the commission since 2004.
For more information about future commission meetings, visit WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/ .