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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

December 7, 2011 at 4:44 PM

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service releases plan to improve coastwide fishing

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service released the Regional Recreational Fishing Plans that looks at improving fishing opportunities, and many other related fishing priorities.

Every year, more than 12 million Americans enjoy saltwater recreational fishing along our coasts.

According to NOAA, saltwater recreational fishing is a major economic driver, generating more than $50 billion in sales and supporting more than 326,000 jobs a year.

NOAA released the first regional saltwater recreational fishing action plans designed to help improve fishing opportunities and address recreational fishing priorities in each of the nation’s six coastal regions and for the angling community that fishes for tunas and other highly migratory species.

The new action agendas mark the first time NOAA has both national and regional strategies in place to address the priorities of the nation’s estimated 11 million saltwater anglers who took approximately 73 million fishing trips in 2010.

The plans are based on goals and objectives identified by participants at the 2010 Saltwater Recreational Fishing Summit.

“We worked closely with saltwater anglers and their supporters on plans designed to improve stewardship and fishing today and for future generations,” Eric Schwaab, assistant NOAA administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service said in a news release. “We’ll revisit the regional action plans regularly to ensure we continue to address our shared goals.”

A project in the Pacific Northwest to develop and evaluate a new, more flexible management approach for chinook salmon that may allow for increased recreational fishing.

In the Northwest, salmon and steelhead fisheries dominate National Marine Fisheries’ Management responsibilities that affect recreational fishing, in marine waters and freshwater.

There are limited recreational fisheries on groundfish or highly migratory species in the Northwest.

Harvest of virtually all salmon and steelhead in the region is negotiated and adopted by the Northwest states and tribes to ensure compliance with conservation requirements and implementation of treaty Indian fishing rights under U.S. v Washington and U.S. v. Oregon – including ocean fisheries considered by the Pacific Fishery Management Council. All of these discussions include determinations of the allowable harvests in recreational fisheries. NMFS participates in the discussions and must review and approve the effects of harvest on myriad listed salmon and steelhead populations under Endangered Species Act (ESA) sections 7, 10(a)1(a), or the Service’s rule adopted in July 2000 under Section 4(d) (50 CFR 223, 42422).

Ultimately, sustainable salmon and steelhead fishing in the Northwest will rely on the recovery of ESA-listed populations and therefore benefit from the vast majority of resources and activities devoted to that goal.

From development and oversight of the Biological Opinion for operation of the Federal Columbia River Hydropower System (FCRPS BiOp), to hundreds of formal and informal Section 7 consultations on federal actions affecting listed fish, to administration of the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund (PCSRF), nearly all regional activities focus on conservation of salmon and steelhead resources of importance to recreational anglers and other fishermen.

NMFS’ Northwest Region also administers the Mitchell Act program, which funds the production of approximately 70 million salmon and steelhead smolts in the Columbia River. This production hatchery program supplies a significant number of fish for harvest by the recreational, commercial, and tribal fisheries in the Columbia River Basin and along the coast to Alaska. This is the only national NMFS program that directly provides fish for harvest by recreational fishermen.

In the Northwest there is also a significant interaction between salmon fisheries and marine mammals. NMFS works to minimize these conflicts and has worked with state and local governments to provide assistance for hazing and removal activities.

The primary interface in the Region between the recreational angling public and NMFS is the Salmon Management Division, which is responsible for all harvest management and hatchery activities relating to salmon and steelhead under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Mitchell Act, and the Endangered Species Act. The initiatives described below are predominantly carried out by the Salmon Management Division, with some assistance from the Protected Resources and Sustainable Fisheries Divisions.

To view specifics go to the NOAA Northwest document link.

Here is the press release on the NOAA Fisheries Service website.

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