Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife FISHING RULE CHANGE
WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

March 16, 2021

New bottomfish regulations for 2021 will provide more opportunity for coastal recreational bottomfish anglers

Actions:

Marine Areas 1 through 4:

Allow five flatfish in excess of the 9 fish daily limit in all coastal marine areas west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line. The five flatfish do not count toward the daily bottomfish limit, but are in addition to it.

Marine Area 4 (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line):

Allow yellowtail and widow rockfish retention seaward of the 120 ft. depth restriction in July and August.

Marine Areas 3 and 4 (west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line):

The 20-fathom depth restriction will be in effect beginning June 1 through July 31

Yellowtail and widow rockfish retention will be allowed seaward of 120 ft. (20 fathoms) in July.

The retention of the following species is allowed seaward of 120 ft. (20 fathoms) on days open to the recreational halibut fishery: Pacific cod, sablefish, lingcod, bocaccio rockfish, silvergray rockfish, canary rockfish, widow rockfish, and yellowtail rockfish.

Marine Area 2:

The 30-fathom depth restriction for lingcod will be in place beginning May 1 through May 31

Lingcod retention will be allowed seaward of the deepwater lingcod closure June 1 through June 15 and September 1 through September 30.

The Washington South Coast and Westport yelloweye rockfish conservation areas (YRCAs) will be open to recreational fishing at all times.

Marine Area 1:

Lingcod retention will be allowed seaward of the deepwater lingcod closure June 1 through June 15 and September 1 through September 30.

In addition to sablefish, Pacific cod and lingcod north of the Washington - Oregon border, the retention of yellowtail rockfish, widow rockfish, canary rockfish, redstriped rockfish, greenstriped rockfish, slivergray rockfish, chilipepper, bocaccio, and blue/deacon rockfish will be allowed on all depth halibut days.

Effective date: March 13, 2021

Species affected: Bottomfish and lingcod

Location: Marine Areas 1 through 3, including Marine Areas 2-1 (Willapa Bay) and 2-2 (Grays Harbor), and Marine Area 4A (west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line) and Marine Area 4B (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line).

Reason for action: The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), using information from the National Marine Fisheries Service and port sampling data collected by WDFW, sets harvest limits for many bottomfish species in coastal waters, including the state waters (inside the 3-mile boundary) of Washington, Oregon and California. The Council set an allowable harvest target for yelloweye rockfish for Washington?s coast in 2021 of 7.5 mt (15,534 lbs) which is similar to the 2020 harvest target of 8.1 mt but more than double the 2018 limit of 3.3 mt (7,275 lbs).

The 2021 yelloweye rockfish limit will allow WDFW to build on the modest changes adopted for 2019 and 2020 and continue to provide access to deepwater areas and healthy groundfish stocks in a precautionary manner. For example, the 20 fathom depth restriction in Marine Areas 3 and 4 will only be in place from June 1 through July 31 compared to June 1 through Labor Day last year. In addition, more rockfish species will be allowed to be retained seaward of the 20 fathom depth restriction on days open to the recreational halibut fishery in those areas. Similarly, in Marine Area 2, depth restrictions and area closures intended to reduce encounters with yelloweye rockfish will be relaxed allowing more access to deep water areas and more lingcod. Deep water lingcod closure areas will also be relaxed in Marine Area 1 and more rockfish species will be added to the bottomfish that can be retained on all depth halibut days.

WDFW managers and stakeholders worked together to develop these management measures and were committed to recommending fishing opportunity that provides access to new areas in a conservative manner to avoid early closure of the recreational bottomfish fishery if encounters with yelloweye rockfish are higher than anticipated.

Information contact: Heather Hall, Intergovernmental Policy Coordinator, 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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