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

August 18, 2005

Prohibit recreational fishing for halibut seaward of 30 fathoms in Marine Area 2

Action: Prohibit fishing, retention, and possession of Pacific halibut in Marine Area 2 seaward of a line approximating 30 fathoms, as defined by the following coordinates:

4731.70N lat. 12437.03W long.; 4725.67N lat. 12434.79W long.; 4712.82N lat. 12429.12W long.; 4652.94? lat. 12422.58W long.; 4644.18N lat. 12418.00W long.; 4638.17N lat. 12415.88W long.

Effective date: Immediately

Species affected: Pacific halibut

Location: Marine Area 2 (Westport)

Reason for action: Canary rockfish are one of eight overfished groundfish stocks, which are managed under rebuilding plans by the Pacific Fishery Management Council. The Pacific Council has adopted harvest guidelines for canary rockfish for state recreational fisheries to ensure that rebuilding goals are met. Management measures to achieve these rebuilding goals include prohibiting the retention of canary rockfish in recreational fisheries to encourage conservation of the stock and discourage targeting by anglers. However, canary rockfish are caught incidentally while anglers are targeting other species of bottomfish, such as halibut. Through our Ocean Sampling Program, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife collects catch data, including released catch information. Because canary rockfish have a swim bladder and are typically caught at deeper depths, there is a high mortality factor associated with this incidental catch.

The rate of incidental catch of canary rockfish is higher this year as compared to last year, and the Washington recreational fishery is projected to achieve, and may exceed, the harvest guideline adopted by the Pacific Council. In order to manage to this harvest guideline, the Department committed to take inseason action to prohibit fishing for bottomfish seaward of a line approximating the 30 fathom depth contour in an effort to slow down the catch rate of canary rockfish. This regulatory action is a follow-through on that commitment.

Even though this action is necessary to reduce the canary catch rate, it is important to note that much of the area where Washington anglers fish will still remain open to bottom