Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) fishery managers are hosting a suite of virtual public town hall meetings this summer and fall to gather feedback from the public as they prepare for the upcoming season.
The meetings are in response to recent and long-term declines in coastal steelhead and last season’s early closure to the 2020-21 coastal steelhead sport fishery.
Anyone interested can attend the first virtual town hall and workshop at 6 p.m., Wednesday, July 28, to hear initial indications for 2020-21 fishery returns, get more information about upcoming opportunities in pre-season planning and provide their feedback for the upcoming season.
“It’s important to us that we continue to hear from the broad community of people deeply invested in the future of these coastal steelhead runs,” said Kelly Cunningham, WDFW fish program director. ”We’re committed to maintaining an open, transparent dialogue with anglers as we look to the future for these struggling populations.”
This year’s early closure followed a modified 2020-21 coastal steelhead season, which restricted the use of bait and fishing from a boat in an effort to increase the number of wild steelhead returning to spawning grounds.
Tribal governments took similar steps to help support coastal steelhead conservation and are expediting post-season analysis alongside WDFW to support more advanced public engagement ahead of next season.
WDFW continues to operate under its Statewide Steelhead Management Plan, which requires the department to prioritize the sustainability of wild coastal steelhead runs, including issues of abundance, productivity, diversity and distribution.
Later this year, WDFW will be seeking applicants for a coastal steelhead advisory group. The work of the advisory group will closely mimic the Puget Sound Steelhead Advisory Group, which helped develop the Quicksilver monitoring and evaluation package for Puget Sound steelhead. More information will be announced as it’s available.
For more information about the July 28 workshop and upcoming coastal steelhead virtual town hall meetings this summer and fall, visit wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/management/steelhead/coastal. The meetings will be recorded and posted online to watch afterwards as well.