OLYMPIA – Ocean waters off the north coast of Washington will close to recreational bottomfishing after midnight Thursday (July 26) to protect yelloweye rockfish, a species federally recognized as overfished.
The closure, announced today by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), affects sport fishing for rockfish, lingcod, Pacific cod, and all other bottomfish in Marine Area 3 off La Push and the portion of Marine Area 4 west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line off Neah Bay.
Heather Reed, a WDFW fish biologist, said the closure is necessary to avoid exceeding quotas on yelloweye rockfish established under a federal stock-rebuilding plan. While it is illegal to retain yelloweye, Reed said anglers sometimes intercept the species while fishing for other bottomfish.
“Anglers took most of the quota as bycatch during the popular north coast halibut openings in May,” Reed said. “That didn’t leave us any margin for bottomfish seasons off the north coast for the rest of the year.”
Seasons for most bottomfish species are generally open year-round.
Reed noted that the early closure applies only to Marine Area 3 and the coastal portion of Marine Area 4 west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line where the federal quota and rebuilding plan are in place.