Skagit Basin Steelhead Fishery
In March 2023, NOAA Fisheries completed its review of the Skagit River steelhead resource management plan (Skagit RMP) and determined that the plan is consistent with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 4(d) Rule for salmon and steelhead. This affirmative determination allows for fisheries that harvest ESA-listed, Skagit River steelhead, including directed fisheries. NOAA Fisheries has concluded that fisheries conducted consistent with the co-manager-developed Skagit RMP will not jeopardize the continued existence of ESA-listed Puget Sound steelhead, nor reduce their likelihood of recovery. In 2018, NMFS reviewed and approved the five-year implementation (2018-2022) of the prior Skagit River steelhead RMP.
The Skagit RMP was submitted jointly by the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for consideration under Limit 6 of the ESA section 4(d) Rule for salmon and steelhead (65 FR 42422, July 10, 2000, as updated in 70 FR 37160, June 28, 2005).
This approval allows for annual steelhead fisheries by tribal and recreational fishers over a 10-year period (2023 – April 30, 2032). The co-managers will implement these steelhead fisheries under the provisions of the Skagit RMP using an abundance-based, stepped total harvest rate between 4% and 25%, depending on the annual estimated run size. Please see the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife State and Tribal Regulations for more information on the actual scheduled seasons.
NOAA Fisheries released its Proposed Evaluation and Pending Determination (PEPD) for a 30-day public review and comment period on December 23, 2023 (87 FR 78944, December 23, 2022). We received 28 comments on our PEPD and considered all of these comments in developing this final decision.
For more information, please contact James Dixon, NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region Sustainable Fisheries Division, at (360) 522-3673.