Olympic National Park released its sport fishing regulations for 2013-2014 on May 14, announcing the closure of recreational fishing in the Hoh River watershed effective immediately.
About 56 percent of the Hoh watershed lies within Olympic National Park boundaries; the fishing closure includes only those portions of the upper Hoh River, South Fork Hoh River, all tributaries, and the Hoh River mouth within the park.
The closure in the Hoh River system is designed to protect a unique population of wild chinook salmon that has declined in recent years. This year’s forecast for Hoh River spring/summer chinook predicts another year when the returning population will fall below the established escapement floor of 900 adults. The population has failed to meet the escapement floor five times in the past six years.
The recent pattern of low escapements and low productivity of chinook highlights the need for additional conservation measures to better protect these salmon that are highly prized in tribal and non-tribal fisheries.
“While we strive to provide fishing opportunities to park visitors, we have significant concerns about impacts on wild chinook in light of the forecast low return to the Hoh this year,” Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum said.
“Conservation of this population is a high priority and the closure will provide some relief and protection for chinook that spawn in Olympic National Park,” she said.
Hoh River spring chinook are an integral component of the park ecosystem and contribute ecologically, economically and culturally.
Specific changes that will go into effect immediately include: 1) the Hoh River mouth will be closed to fishing through Aug. 31; and 2) the upper Hoh and South Fork Hoh Rivers and their tributaries will be closed from May 1-Oct. 31 and will reopen on Nov. 1. Sport fishing opportunities are available throughout other areas of the park.
Updated regulations are available at www.nps.gov/olym/fishregs.htm and at all park visitor centers, fee booths, ranger stations and area fishing stores.
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