WSR 97-03-039

EMERGENCY RULES

DEPARTMENT OF

FISH AND WILDLIFE

(Wildlife)

[Order 97-03--Filed January 9, 1997, 2:02 p.m., effective January 16, 1997, 12:01 a.m.]

Date of Adoption: January 9, 1997.

Purpose: Emergency changes to the 1997 Winter steelhead fishing regulations.

Citation of Existing Rules Affected by this Order: Amending WAC 232-28-619.

Statutory Authority for Adoption: RCW 77.12.040.

Under RCW 34.05.350 the agency for good cause finds that immediate adoption, amendment, or repeal of a rule is necessary for the preservation of the public health, safety, or general welfare, and that observing the time requirements of notice and opportunity to comment upon adoption of a permanent rule would be contrary to the public interest.

Reasons for this Finding: Item 1: The Green River wild winter-run steelhead escapement goal is 2,000. The 1997 wild runsize is predicted to be 2,362 allowing a harvestable number of only 362 wild steelhead. The February 1st wild steelhead release regulations will protect wild spawners, while allowing hatchery steelhead to be harvested. The tribal net fishery will not extend past January 31, 1997.

Items 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12: The Snohomish River system wild winter-run steelhead escapement goal is 6,500. The 1997 wild runsize is predicted to be 8,362, allowing a harvestable number of 1,842 wild steelhead. The February 16th wild steelhead release regulations will protect wild spawners, while allowing hatchery steelhead to be harvested. The tribal net fishery will not extend past January 18, 1997.

Item 13: A 1996-97 wild winter steelhead runsize could not be predicted using established methodologies. Wild steelhead escapements could not be estimated two out of the last four years due to extremely poor spring weather conditions, thus making the 1996-97 preseason estimation impossible. Given previous years' wild runsizes it is expected there will be an unquantified number of harvestable wild fish in 1996-97. However, given the lack of increase in the wild run in recent seasons the parties agreed to manage 1996-97 wild winter steelhead in the same fashion as 1994-95. In an effort not to exceed a 16 percent combined sport and tribal harvest rate on wild fish, the tribal fishery will end during management week 8 (2/16 to 2/22), the sport fishery will go to wild steelhead release regulations March 1, 1997. The hatchery winter steelhead sport fishery will proceed uninterrupted.

Item 14: In an attempt to manage the wild winter-run steelhead resource in a balanced region-wide manner, the Stillaguamish River is being proposed for wild steelhead release regulations March 1, 1997. Although the escapement of wild steelhead in the North Fork Stillaguamish River index area has consistently exceeded the escapement goal. In past years when surrounding rivers have been placed on emergency wild steelhead release regulations there has been concern about a shift in sport angler effort to the Stillaguamish River. The angler shift and associated wild harvest could potentially decrease the number of spawning fish to below the spawning objective. In the past there has been considerable public concern about not achieving this spawning objective.

Items 15 and 16: The predicted wild runsize for 1996-97 is 2,025. With the interim wild steelhead escapement goal of 2,000 spawners, the harvestable number of steelhead is 25. The January 16th wild steelhead release regulations will protect wild spawners while allowing hatchery steelhead to be harvested. The tribal net fishery will not extend beyond management week 3 (1/12 to 1/18).

Item 17: The stock status of Elwha River wild winter-run steelhead is depressed. Hatchery winter-run steelhead return predominantly during November through February and are targeted for harvest in sport and tribal fisheries. Wild winter-run steelhead return predominantly during March and April and would be protected from sport harvest by this emergency regulation.

The proposed emergency closure is also supported by the Lower Elwha Tribe which has agreed not to fish after February 28 during the 1996-97 season. For the 1997-98 season, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has proposed a June 1 - February 28 season with wild steelhead release; this emergency regulation would implement the February 28 season closure one season earlier and provide additional protection for wild steelhead. Wild steelhead release is not appropriate during the 1996-97 season since hatchery steelhead adults returning to the Elwha River will not be marked.

Number of Sections Adopted in Order to Comply with Federal Statute: New 0, amended 0, repealed 0; Federal Rules or Standards: New 0, amended 0, repealed 0; or Recently Enacted State Statutes: New 0, amended 0, repealed 0.

Number of Sections Adopted at Request of a Nongovernmental Entity: New 0, amended 0, repealed 0.

Number of Sections Adopted on the Agency's own Initiative: New 0, amended 1, repealed 0.

Number of Sections Adopted in Order to Clarify, Streamline, or Reform Agency Procedures: New 0, amended 0, repealed 0.

Number of Sections Adopted using Negotiated Rule Making: New 0, amended 0, repealed 0; Pilot Rule Making: New 0, amended 0, repealed 0; or Other Alternative Rule Making: New 0, amended 0, repealed 0.

Effective Date of Rule: January 16, 1997, 12:01 a.m.

January 9, 1997

Bern Shanks

Director

NEW SECTION

WAC 232-28-61900B 1997 Washington game fish seasons and catch limits -- Green River, Snohomish River, Snoqualmie River, Skykomish River, Wallace River, Sultan River, Pilchuck River, Tolt River, Raging River, Tokul Creek, Skagit River, Stillaguamish River, Puyallup River, Carbon River and Elwha River. Notwithstanding the provisions of WAC 232-28-619, effective January 16, 1997, the following regulations apply:

Item 1: Green River From its mouth to the SR

(King Co.) 167 Freeway Bridge: Wild Steelhead Release February 1, 1997-February 28, 1997.

From SR 167 Freeway Bridge to Tacoma Headworks Dam: Wild Steelhead Release February 1, 1997 - February 28, 1997.

Item 2: Snohomish River From mouth (Burlington Northern Railroad bridges (including all channels, sloughs and inter-connected waterways) upstream to the confluence of the Skykomish and Snoqualmie rivers (all channels): Wild Steelhead Release February 16, 1997 - March 31, 1997.

From Highway 529 upstream (all channels): Wild Steelhead Release February 16, 1997 - March 31, 1997.

Item 3: Snoqualmie River From mouth to falls: Wild Steelhead Release February 16, 1997 - March 31, 1997.

Item 4: Skykomish River From its mouth to mouth

(Mainstem) of Sultan River: Wild Steelhead Release February 16, 1997 - February 28, 1997.

From the mouth of the Sultan River to the forks: Wild Steelhead Release February 16, 1997 - March 31, 1997.

Item 5: Skykomish River From its mouth to 1000'

(North Fork) downstream from Bear Creek Falls: Wild Steelhead Release February 16, 1997 - February 28, 1997.

Item 6: Skykomish River From its mouth to 600'

(South Fork) downstream from the Sunset Falls Fishway: Wild Steelhead Release February 16, 1997 - February 28, 1997.

Item 7: Wallace River From the mouth to mouth of Olney Creek: Wild Steelhead Release February 16, 1997 - February 28, 1997.

Item 8: Sultan River From its mouth to a point 400' downstream from the diversion dam at river mile 9.7: Wild Steelhead Release February 16, 1997 - February 28, 1997.

Item 9: Pilchuck River From its mouth to 500' downstream from the Snohomish City diversion dam: Wild Steelhead Release February 16, 1997 - February 28, 1997.

Item 10: Tolt River From its mouth to the USFS trolley cable near the confluence of the North and South Forks: Wild Steelhead Release February 16, 1997 - February 28, 1997.

Item 11: Raging River From its mouth to the Highway 18 Bridge (three miles upstream from Preston): Wild Steelhead Release February 16, 1997 - February 28, 1997.

Item 12: Tokul Creek From its mouth to the posted cable boundary marker located approximately 700' upstream from the mouth: Wild Steelhead Release February 16, 1997 - March 31, 1997.

Item 13: Skagit River From mouth to pipeline crossing at Sedro Woolley: Wild Steelhead Release March 1, 1997 - March 31, 1997.

From pipeline crossing at Sedro Woolley to Bacon Creek: Wild Steelhead Release March 1, 1997 - March 15, 1997.

Item 14: Stillaguamish River All sloughs downstream of Warm Beach-Stanwood Highway: Wild Steelhead Release March 1, 1997 - until further notice.

From Warm Beach-Stanwood Highway upstream to forks: Wild Steelhead Release March 1, 1997 - March 31, 1997.

Item 15: Puyallup River From the mouth to Electron power plant outlet: Wild Steelhead Release January 16, 1997 - January 31, 1997.

Item 16: Carbon River From mouth to Highway 162 Bridge: Wild Steelhead Release January 16, 1997 - January 31, 1997.

Item 17: Elwha River From mouth to Aldwell Lake Dam: Closed to fishing for all game fish March 1, 1997 - April 15, 1997.

All other provisions of WAC 232-28-619 relating to the above waters remain in effect and unchanged.

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