Until the state finishes working on federal permits, water areas where salmon are migrating have been closed to fishing. More specifically, non-tribal commercial and recreational fisheries are closed in Puget Sound marine and freshwaters since May 1st due to the officials’ decision from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
After the previous permit expired on April 30th, state fishery managers are working to provide the federal permit so that salmon fisheries may be conducted in Puget Sound. The WDFW inland fish program manager, Larry Phillips, said they understand that this situation causes a lot of frustration but even so, they need to do their job.
Usually, the tribes and the state collectively obtain the federal permit for the Puget, where the federal Endangered Species Act holds under protection some fish stocks. There was an exception this year as the tribal fishery managers, and the state did not come to an agreement regarding the Puget Sound salmon fisheries because the tribes and the WDFW want to have distinct permits of their own.
According to Ron Warren, head of WDFW’s fish program, this was the reason why they had to close fishing around those areas. Maybe if they had come to an agreement with the treaty tribal co-managers, they wouldn’t have needed to shut down the access to fish.
This situation might go on for a couple of months. It is a quite a long time because many people around these areas rely on fishing, especially the tribes. Furthermore, another issue is that there are many places where fishing is forbidden such as Lake Sammamish, Lake Washington, the Washington Ship Canal including Lake Portage, Union, and Salmon bays.
Warren announced that they were doing their best along with the federal authorities to re-open the Puget Sound marine and freshwater fisheries as soon as possible. He understands that such a decision led to disappointment among Puget Sound communities.
Ultimately, it is only fair that people should frown upon such drastic measures which came on such short notice. Nevertheless, communities and tribes need to leave their frustration behind and hope that things will get better during the following months.
Ultimately, if everyone had been less ignorant in the first place, the salmon population wouldn’t have needed protection.
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