- Associated Press - Friday, June 24, 2016

SEATTLE (AP) - Puget Sound marine areas, rivers and lakes closed because of protracted negotiations between tribal and state officials are now open, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said Friday.

The agency said it received federal approval to open Puget Sound areas that had been closed May 1. Federal approval is needed to ensure that fishing doesn’t harm endangered salmon stocks.

“We know Puget Sound anglers have been frustrated by the late start to this year’s salmon season,” John Long, salmon fisheries policy lead for WDFW said in a statement. “This opening puts the year’s salmon fisheries back on track.”

The state and Puget Sound tribes, which have shared management of fisheries for decades, did not reach an agreement over annual catch limits during its usual season-setting process this spring. They typically submit a joint management plan by mid-April to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

As talks dragged on and with the previous federal permit expiring on April 30, WDFW closed recreational and non-tribal commercial salmon fishing in Puget Sound and rivers that feed into it on May 1.

Both sides announced they would seek separate federal permits, prompting concerns that the 2016-17 fishing season in Puget Sound could be delayed or not happen.

The state and tribes eventually reached an agreement on May 26 that ended the impasse, and together they sought federal approval for a joint plan for Puget Sound that includes new restrictions to protect coho salmon.

Anglers are urged to check fishing regulations. Current regulations for sport fisheries in Puget Sound, rivers and lakes run through Thursday. Most recreational salmon fishing begin in July, and new season regulations take effect July 1.


WDFW Fishing Regulations: https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/

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