Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife FISHING RULE CHANGE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

April 14, 2017

Halibut fishing will open Thursday May 4

Action: Recreational halibut fishing will open in Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco/Chinook) Thursday May 4. This area will be open at all depths four days per week (Thursday through Sunday) until the subarea quota has been taken.

Provided there is sufficient quota to accommodate the season, halibut fishing will be open on May 4, 6, 11, 21, and 25, and June 1 and 4, in Puget Sound marine areas 5-10 and in ocean marine areas 2-4. Marine Area 1 also opens on May 4 and will be open four days per week (Thursday through Sunday) beginning May 4, until the quota has been met.

Effective date: May 4, 2017

Species affected: Pacific halibut

Location: Marine Areas 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Additional Information:

Marine Area 1: This year, anglers will be allowed to keep a lingcod when halibut are on board during the all depth fishery but only when fishing north of the Washington-Oregon border during the month of May. The nearshore area in Marine Area 1 will open Monday May 8, three days per week (Monday through Wednesday) until the nearshore set aside is taken. Bottomfish can be retained when halibut are onboard in the nearshore area.

Marine Area 2 (Westport): The nearshore fishery will open on the Saturday after the quota for the all-depth fishery has been taken. The nearshore area will be open 7-days per week until the nearshore set aside is taken.

Marine Areas 3 and 4 west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line (La Push and Neah Bay): Bottomfish fishing will be restricted to the area shoreward of 20 (120 ft) fathoms beginning May 1 through Labor Day. Lingcod, sablefish, and Pacific cod can be retained seaward of 20 fathoms (120 ft.) on days open to recreational halibut fishing.

Marine Areas 5 and 6: Lingcod and Pacific cod can be retained in waters deeper than the 120 foot depth restriction on days open to the recreational halibut fishery.

All Marine Areas: The daily limit is one fish per person, there is no minimum size limit. All halibut catch must be recorded on a WDFW catch record card.

Reason for action: Recreational halibut fishing will be open on the same dates in the all marine areas except the Columbia River. WDFW worked with stakeholders to develop this season structure to address increased fishing effort that has resulted in fewer fishing days in recent years in all areas except Columbia River area. The overlap in season dates across multiple management areas is intended to keep catch within subarea quotas and spread out the season by limiting the overall number of fishing days. All areas will be managed on available quota rather than having inflexible set season dates as was in place for many years in the Puget Sound.

WDFW has proposed allowing lingcod retention with halibut on board in Marine Area 1 (Columbia River) area for several years. However, this area is co-managed with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and they have raised concerns with potential increased yelloweye rockfish mortality in Oregon. Restricting lingcod retention to only Washington waters and allowing it only in the month of May would allow WDFW to enhance fishing opportunity in an area where halibut effort has been low and would provide a limited time period to evaluate the potential for increased encounters with yelloweye rockfish.

The nearshore fishery in Marine Area 2 (Westport) will open after the primary season (all-depth) has closed. This change is intended to preserve the original intent of the nearshore fishery as an incidental allowance during the bottomfish fishery when the focus on the primary halibut season is over.

These rules conform to action taken by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) and the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC).

Information contact: Heather Reed, (360) 902-2487

Fishers must have a current Washington fishing license, appropriate to the fishery. Check the WDFW "Fishing in Washington" rules pamphlet for details on fishing seasons and regulations. Fishing rules are subject to change. Check the WDFW Fishing hotline for the latest rule information at (360) 902-2500, press 2 for recreational rules. For the Shellfish Rule Change hotline call (360)796-3215 or toll free 1-866-880-5431.

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