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Salmon and Steelhead Fisheries in Puget Sound, Washington

Salmon and steelhead fisheries in Puget Sound include all marine and freshwater fishing areas in Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca out to Cape Flattery on the northwest coast of Washington.

Salmon and steelhead fisheries in Puget Sound include all marine and freshwater fishing areas in Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca out to Cape Flattery on the northwest coast of Washington. These fisheries provide for commercial, recreational, and tribal harvest. Washington State and the Puget Sound treaty tribes co-manage these fisheries subject to the terms of the Puget Sound Salmon Management Plan, under the continuing jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court for the District of Washington: United States v. Washington (1974, Boldt Decision).

These fisheries are not managed under the Magnuson-Stevens Act by NOAA Fisheries or the Pacific Fishery Management Council. However, NOAA Fisheries works with the state and tribal co-managers through the Endangered Species Act.

The Puget Sound Salmon Management Plan (1985), developed by the state and tribal co-managers, is the implementation framework for the allocation, conservation, and equitable sharing principles of United States v. Washington that governs management of salmon resources in Puget Sound between the Puget Sound treaty tribes and State of Washington. It defines the basis for deriving management objectives and allocation accounting, prescribes procedures for information exchange and dispute resolution, and includes provisions for annual review and modification.

Puget Sound Chinook salmon were listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1999. Since 2000, the Puget Sound co-managers have managed the fisheries through annual or multi-year agreements authorized by NOAA Fisheries. The Comprehensive Management Plan for Puget Sound Chinook: Harvest Management Component provides the current framework for managing fisheries in Puget Sound. A new management plan is under development to replace the plan that expired in 2014.

Similar to the other salmon and steelhead fisheries that occur in the United States v. Washington case area, the Puget Sound fisheries are planned during the North of Falcon process, which includes a series of public meetings involving federal, state, tribal, and industry representatives, as well as citizens.

Regulations: North of Falcon | State of Washington


Skagit Basin steelhead fishery

In April 2018, 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.

This approval will allow an annual steelhead-directed fishery for tribal and recreational fishers over a 5-year period (2018 - 2022), including the 2018 spring season, which ended on April 30, 2018. The co-managers will implement annual steelhead fisheries under the provisions of the Skagit RMP using an abundance-based, stepped total harvest rate between 4% and 25%, depending on the forecasted run size. Please see the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife State and Tribal Regulations for more information on the actual scheduled seasons.

The Skagit RMP was submitted jointly by the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe, the Skagit River System Cooperative, 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).

NOAA Fisheries released its Proposed Evaluation and Pending Determination (PEPD) for a 30-day public review and comment period on December 7, 2017 (Federal Register notice (82 FR 57729, December 7, 2017)). We received roughly 120 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) 534-9329.


Last updated by West Coast Regional Office on July 30, 2021