OLYMPIA – State fishery managers have decided to separately secure the federal permit required to hold salmon fisheries this season in Puget Sound.
The decision was made Tuesday after negotiations over salmon seasons with tribal leaders again came to an impasse. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the tribes last week could not reach an agreement during the annual season-setting process.
"We had hoped additional conversations with the tribes would result in fisheries that were agreeable to both parties," said Jim Unsworth, director of the department. "Unfortunately, that did not happen, but our door remains open to further discussions."
WDFW officials said it is uncertain whether the department will have the permit in time to hold recreational and non-tribal commercial salmon fisheries in Puget Sound through much of the season. The permit is necessary to hold fisheries in Puget Sound where there are fish stocks protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Tribal fishery managers are expected to separately seek federal permits from NOAA Fisheries for salmon fisheries in Puget Sound.
Over the course of negotiations, the department proposed fisheries that maintained some fishing opportunities and met conservation objectives, said Ron Warren, head of WDFW's Fish Program.
"This isn't the outcome we had hoped for, but we will do our best to obtain a federal permit as quickly as possible," Warren said.