Tag Archives: Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission

Orcas gain increasing clout during fishing season discussions

Puget Sound’s endangered killer whales are becoming fully integrated into annual planning efforts that divide up the available salmon harvest among user groups — including sport, commercial and tribal fishers.

An orca mother named Calypso (L-94) nurses her young calf Windsong (L-121) in 2015.
Photo: NOAA Fisheries, Vancouver Aquarium under NMFS and FAA permits.

The southern resident killer whales should be given priority for salmon over human fishers, according to a fishing policy adopted for 2019-2023 by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission. The new policy calls for “proper protection to SRKW from reduction to prey availability or from fishery vessel traffic …”

The problem with allocating a specific number of salmon to the orcas is that the whales cannot tell us when or where they would like to take salmon for their own consumption. The result, now in the planning stages, is to limit or close fishing in areas where the orcas are most likely to forage during the fishing seasons.

As revealed yesterday during the annual “North of Falcon” forecast meeting, fewer chinook salmon — the orcas’ primary food — are expected to return to Puget Sound this year compared to last year, but more coho salmon should be available for sport and tribal fishermen. The challenge, according to harvest managers, is to set fishing seasons to take harvestable coho without unduly affecting the wild chinook — a threatened species in Puget Sound.

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New members appointed to Fish and Wildlife Commission

Gov. Chris Gregoire has appointed three new members of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission. They are:

David Jennings of Olympia, who has been active in fish and wildlife issues for nearly 20 years, according to the Governor’s Office;
Rollie Schmitten of Lake Chelan, former director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and former director of the National Marine Fisheries Service; and
Brad Smith, dean of Huxley College of Environmental Studies at Western Washington University in Bellingham.

The three will serve terms that end in December 2014. The commission oversees the Department of Fish and Wildlife, which manages natural resources and regulates hunting and fishing seasons.

Schmitten replaces Jerry Gutzwiler, a Wenatchee orchardist; Smith replaces Will Roehl, a Bellingham attorney; and Jennings replaces Shirley Solomon of Mount Vernon, chairwoman of the Skagit Watershed Council.

More information about the three as well as background on the ongoing commission members:
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Koenings resigns from Washington Fish and Wildlife post

I received an announcement this evening from the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission:

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission convened in a special meeting via telephone conference call this afternoon and immediately went into executive session to discuss personnel issues. The Commission came back into public session and voted in favor of accepting a letter of resignation received today from Director Jeff Koenings, with an effective date of December 11, 2008.

Another vote was taken to appoint Phil Anderson as acting director.

The Commission also approved the following statement:

“The Fish and Wildlife Commission has accepted the resignation of Dr. Jeffrey P. Koenings from his position as Director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife effective December 11, 2008. The Commission is extremely grateful to Dr. Koenings for his service and contributions as Director of the Department for the past 10 years. The Commission has named Phil Anderson as interim director. Anderson has been the deputy director of the Department for the past 1-1/2 years. The Commission will begin a nationwide search for a permanent Director in 2009.”

For a couple of weeks, I have heard rumors that Koenings may be leaving. I never got to the bottom of them, but it sounds like there may be more to this than the commission is letting on. I’m not sure about the politics of commission members, but I realize that some anglers believed Koenings favored commercial fishermen when it came to salmon allocations.

Koenings was always helpful to me, but that says nothing about his troubles inside or outside the agency. Anyone who cares to comment may do so here or contact me offline.

The Associated Press carried this story:
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