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Commission to discuss Willapa Bay salmon, tufted puffins and Steller sea lions

OLYMPIA - The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will accept public comments on proposed changes to the protective status of Steller sea lions and tufted puffins at a meeting scheduled Feb. 6-7 in Olympia.

Also at the two-day meeting, the commission will discuss draft options for a new policy to address conservation and fishery objectives for Willapa Bay salmon fisheries.

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will convene in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. SE, Olympia. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 6 and at 8 a.m. the following day.

An agenda for the meeting is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/ .

During the meeting, WDFW staff members will provide a briefing on updated status reports for Steller seas lions and tufted puffins. The department is recommending listing tufted puffins on the state's endangered species list and removing Steller sea lions from the state's threatened species list.

After receiving the briefing, the commission will take public comment on the recommendations. The updated status report for Steller sea lions is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01641/ and the report for tufted puffins can be reviewed online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01642/ .

The commission is scheduled to make a final decision on the status recommendations in March.

A separate public hearing is scheduled during the upcoming commission meeting on the management of Willapa Bay salmon fisheries. The public also can review the draft options and provide comments online through Jan. 29 at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/willapa_bay_salmon/ .

In other business, the commission will receive a briefing on two proposals to acquire land for fish and wildlife habitat and public recreation. One property is a 94-acre parcel in Whitman County that is being donated by Pheasants Forever. The other consists of 10 acres in Whatcom County that would be funded through a National Coastal Wetlands grant.

Additionally, the commission will hear a briefing on the enforcement program and will discuss the North of Falcon policy, which provides direction to fishery managers in defining annual salmon fishing seasons in Washington's waters.


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