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

May 4, 2006

Prohibit Recreational Fishing for Rockfish and Lingcod Seaward of 20 fathoms in Marine Areas 3 and 4

Action: Prohibit fishing, retention, and possession of rockfish and lingcod in Marine Areas 3 and 4, seaward of a line approximating 20 fathoms, as defined by the following coordinates:

Beginning at the Bonilla-Tatoosh line, at 48 23.87' N; 124 44.17' W Then to 48 23.60' N; 124 44.90' W Then to 48 19.10' N; 124 43.40' W Then to 48 18.20' N; 124 46.40' W (intersection with 3-mile line) Then follow the 3-mile line south to the Queets River (47 31.70' N)

Effective dates: From 12:01 a.m. Monday, May 22, 2006, through 11:59 p.m. Saturday, September 30, 2006, on all days that recreational fishing for Pacific halibut is closed.

Species affected: All species of rockfish and lingcod

Location: Marine Area 3 (La Push) and Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay)

Reason for action: Yelloweye rockfish are one of seven overfished groundfish stocks, which are managed under rebuilding plans by the Pacific Fishery Management Council. The Pacific Council has adopted harvest guidelines for yelloweye rockfish for state recreational fisheries to ensure that rebuilding goals are met. Management measures to achieve these rebuilding goals include prohibiting the retention of yelloweye rockfish in recreational fisheries to encourage conservation of the stock and discourage targeting by anglers. However, yelloweye rockfish are caught incidentally while anglers are targeting other species, such as lingcod and halibut. Through our Ocean Sampling Program, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife collects catch data, including released catch information. Because yelloweye 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 yelloweye rockfish was significantly higher last year as compared to our preseason projection. Without this 20-fm depth restriction, the Washington recreational fishery would likely 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 restrict bottomfish fishing to slow down the catch rate of yelloweye rockfish. This regulatory action is a follow-through on that commitment.

Even though this action is necessary to reduce the yelloweye catch rate, it is important to note that some areas where Washington anglers fish will still remain open to bottomfish fishing. On days that halibut fishing is open (e.g., June 22 and 24), the depth restriction will not apply. On days that halibut fishing is closed, anglers can target other species, such as salmon (when open) seaward of the 20-fm line, then catch and retain their rockfish and lingcod once they are shoreward of the line approximating the 20-fm depth restriction. However, any rockfish or lingcod caught while targeting salmon seaward of the 20-fm line cannot be retained or possessed.

Information contact: Michele Culver, (360) 249-1211 20 fathom restriction

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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