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Washington Coast: Commission to Examine Whale, Salmon Status

Published 02/25/21 at 5:20 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Washington Coast: Commission to Decide Whale, Salmon Status

(Long Beach, Washington) – A Washington State commission will be gathering this week to discuss the endangered status of Gray whales and Humpback whales along the Washington coast, as well as salmon management policy in the Willapa Bay area. It will also be examining crab fisheries in the region and the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area Management Plan. (Photo courtesy Seaside Aquarium: a Humpback whale meanders around the north Oregon coast)

The meetings are put together by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), held virtually in a series of Zoom gatherings from February 25 through the 27th.

Gray whale populations along this part of the Eastern Pacific have mostly recovered and have been at or near carrying capacity for several decades. Washington State periodically re-examines their status as an endangered species.

There are still concerns about the smaller populations of the Pacific Coast Feeding Group in the Washington coast region. Threats to Humpbacks and Gray whales still exist, according to Washington scientists working with WDFW, and thus they recommend their federally protected status remain.


Humpback on the Washington coast, courtesy Seaside Aquarium

“We recommend that the gray whale be retained as a state sensitive species in Washington,” said WDFW’s Chris Sato and Hannah Anderson. “The humpback whale Central America DPS and the Mexico DPS, which together comprise about 36.6 percent of the humpback whales that visit Washington waters, remain below sustainable numbers and are federally listed as endangered and threatened, respectively. In order to align with federal listings, reflect the status of the most vulnerable DPS that visits the state, and support the conservation efforts of other agencies and organizations, we recommend that the humpback whale be retained as a state endangered species.”

On Thursday, February 25, the commission will host various meetings on a suite of topics, including fish passage rulemaking and 2021-2023 hunting season setting proposals.

On Friday, Feb. 26, the full Commission will hear an update regarding the recently adopted Scatter Creek Wildlife Area Management Plan and will consider the state listing status of gray and humpback whales. Also on the agenda are updates on conservation plans for coastal commercial Dungeness crab fisheries to address whale entanglement concerns.

Saturday brings the topic of Willapa Bay Salmon Management Policy on the southern Washington coast.

WDFW is allowing the public to join in and make comments.

“The Commission will take open public comment on Friday and Saturday mornings and as part of several updates throughout the meeting.,” it said in a press release. “To support COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, this meeting will be conducted online and be available to the public to watch or listen via webinar or conference call.”

No decisions will be made at the meetings.

For more information on how to participate and to view the agenda, visit wdfw.wa.gov/about/commission/meetings. This meeting will also be recorded and posted online so people can also watch afterwards at their convenience. MORE PHOTOS BELOW

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Gray whale and her calf, north Oregon coast: photo courtesy Seaside Aquarium

Photos courtesy Seaside Aquarium



 

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