NOAA Fisheries to assess Puget Sound Chinook salmon fisheries plan

May 2018

NOAA Fisheries wants public comment on an upcoming environmental analysis that could shape fisheries for Chinook salmon around Puget Sound over the next decade.

Surrounded by salmon streams, Puget Sound represents one of the West Coast’s top three salmon strongholds next to the Sacramento and Columbia River regions.

multiple swimming chinook salmon viewed from above

Chinook salmon. Photo: NOAA Fisheries

Since Puget Sound Chinook salmon are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), NOAA Fisheries must examine whether a 10-year harvest plan jointly developed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Puget Sound area tribes (known as “co-managers”) meets ESA criteria. In particular, NOAA Fisheries must find that the harvest plan does not appreciably reduce the likelihood of survival and recovery of the protected fish.

The plan is a blueprint for all commercial, recreational, ceremonial, and subsistence salmon fisheries in the marine waters and rivers of the Salish Sea and Puget Sound from the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca through the southern Sound. The plan will ensure that the state and tribes manage fishing in a way that supports the recovery of Puget Sound Chinook salmon.

Recovery of threatened and endangered species, such as Puget Sound Chinook salmon, provides both environmental and economic benefits across the region in terms of more harvest opportunities.

As part of its review, NOAA Fisheries will also complete an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) analyzing the effects and impacts of potential harvest alternatives. “The analysis in the EIS will help NOAA Fisheries determine whether to approve the harvest plan, and it will help the public understand the likely consequences of the decision,” said Susan Bishop of NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region.

NOAA Fisheries will evaluate a few different alternative fishing options, including the co-managers’ proposal,  an alternative with no fishing in Puget Sound, and an alternative approach that sets escapement goals for different Puget Sound Chinook salmon management units. Escapement goals are objectives for the number of salmon that “escape” harvest and predators and return to their home streams to spawn.

Now NOAA Fisheries is requesting data, comments, and suggestions from the public, scientists, tribes, and others to inform the resources and alternatives analyzed in the EIS. NOAA Fisheries will consider all comments and is especially interested in information about:

Comments can be emailed to ps2018rmp.wcr@noaa.gov or sent by mail to Barry A. Thom, Regional Administrator, West Coast Region, NOAA Fisheries, 1201 NE Lloyd Blvd., Suite 1100, Portland, OR, 97232. For further information, visit NOAA Fisheries’ dedicated page on the analysis or contact Emi Kondo at 503-736-4739 or emi.kondo@noaa.gov.

For more information on salmon recovery in Puget Sound, visit NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region.