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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I got the chance to visit with Steve Thiesfeld, who is a Salmon Fishery Manager for Washington State. There was great confusion (at least for me) about the fishing regulation with regards to bringing salmon from Canada to Washington on days that salmon is closed in Washington. For example, Neah Bay is closed on Sundays and Mondays, but Canada is open 7 days per week. Well, after talking with Steve, he agreed that the sport regulations pamphlet is worded WRONG. The pamplet states that salmon brought from Canada must meet "port possession limits". It doesn't say anything about port DAILY limits. Despite the fact that the sport regs. are misworded, the WAC states it correctly. If salmon isn't open in WA for the day, you can't bring salmon from Canada to that closed area of WA, unless you have cleared Canadian customs. The following is explanation of the regulation and the reason for it. He has spent a great amount of time with me discussing this and writing up an explanation that I could give to you all. After talking to Steve, I have a lot of respect for him and he has a hard job to fulfill. Here is his email to me....

February 1, 2008

Hi Tommy,

It was good to visit with you at the boat show. I did some additional research on your question: Can you land Canadian caught salmon at Neah Bay on days that Neah Bay is closed to salmon fishing? From my research, my answer is the same as it was at the show, that is, you cannot land salmon caught on a day that Neah Bay was closed. You may land salmon caught on days that Neah Bay was open as long as they are not in a “fresh� form. The specific regulation prohibiting landing fresh salmon is WAC 220-56-156, which I have copied here:

WAC 220-56-156 Possession and delivery of Canadian-origin food fish and shellfish

(1) Canadian license required. It is unlawful to possess in marine waters or deliver into Washington shellfish or food fish taken for personal use from Canadian waters unless the person that possesses or delivers the shellfish or food fish possesses a valid Canadian sport fishing license and catch record card, if one is required, for the shellfish and food fish taken.

(2) Canadian-origin rockfish restrictions: It is unlawful to possess yelloweye or canary rockfish taken for personal use from Canadian waters.

(3) Canadian-origin halibut restrictions:

(a) The daily limit of halibut is one daily limit, regardless of the origin of the halibut. The daily limit is two halibut if taken from Canadian waters or one halibut if taken from Washington waters.

(b) The possession limit is two halibut if at least one halibut was taken from Washington waters and three halibut if all three halibut were taken from Canadian waters.

(c) It is unlawful to possess more than one daily limit of halibut aboard the fishing vessel.

(4) Canadian-origin salmon restrictions:

(a) It is unlawful to possess in marine waters or deliver into Washington any fresh salmon taken for personal use from Canadian waters unless such salmon meet current salmon regulations for the waters of the applicable department of fish and wildlife catch record card area, except, if the vessel operator has a valid Canadian customs clearance number obtained while the vessel was moored at a Canadian government dock in Ucluelet, Victoria, Sydney, White Rock, or Bedwell Harbour, British Columbia, fishers aboard the vessel may deliver Canadian-origin salmon into Washington that are lawfully taken in Canada, regardless of whether the salmon meet the current salmon regulations for the area where delivered.

(b) It is unlawful to fish for any species in state or offshore waters from a vessel having Canadian-origin salmon aboard that do not meet the current salmon regulations for the waters being fished.

(c) It is unlawful for a fisher to fish for any species in state or offshore waters if the fisher possesses in the field any salmon that do not meet the current salmon regulations for the waters being fished.

(5) "Delivery" of Canadian-origin fish into Washington defined. For the purposes of this section, "delivery" means transportation by a private or commercial recreational fishing vessel and delivery in Washington is complete when, within the state, the vessel anchors, moors, ties to a float or pier, or is placed or attempted to be placed on a boat trailer. "Delivery" is also complete if the fish or shellfish are offloaded from the vessel within state waters.

The website where you can find this WAC is: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=220-56-156. From section 4a, you can see that it is unlawful to posses or land fresh salmon caught in Canada unless they meet the current U.S. salmon regulations unless you have cleared Canadian customs. I agree with you that the current pamphlet wording is not clear in this respect, and will work to ensure the pamphlet language is cleaned up to match the WAC.

Secondly, I wanted to try to better explain the reasoning behind the rule. As I stated previously, the purpose of the rule is to ensure that our conservation restrictions are effective and to discourage anglers from bypassing those restrictions, because if they do, we will have to increase the restrictions in U.S. waters. Here is a simple hypothetical example: Say a particular Puget Sound river has a limit on Chinook harvest of 30% of the run. That limit is set by NOAA Fisheries, a federal agency responsible for implementing the Endangered Species Act. Under our current regulations with the existing prohibition on landing Canadian caught salmon, the breakout of catch is as follows: Canada 25% and Washington 5%. If we removed the prohibition on Canadian caught salmon, the percentage of fish caught in Canada would increase. In this example, say it increases another 2% bringing the Canadian portion to a total of 27%. By the harvest limit of 30% set by NOAA Fisheries, the Washington portion of harvest would necessarily have to drop to 3%. In order to reduce our harvest, we would have to implement further restrictions in state and tribal fishing. Our part of that cut might mean a reduced bag limit, closing some seasons, or other restrictions.

I hope these explanations are helpful. Please feel free to call me if I have only muddied the waters or if you have additional questions. I can be reached at WDFW

Best of luck fishing this year.

Sincerely,

Steve Thiesfeld
Puget Sound Recreational Salmon Fishery Manager
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
 

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Nice work. That makes it perfectly clear.
 

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Thanks for asking about that. It is nice to know that there is a somewhat understandable reason for it.
 

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So if I catch a yelloweye rockfish in canada I can't bring that fish over the border? conf:
 

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Yup, Cornfed the guy above told you right. As long as you clear customs with your fish caught in Canada you can legally bring them into any port in Washington.

I have done this many times over the years. I clear customs going and coming. I usually clear at Victoria on my way up and then at Friday Harbor upon my return. It's never been an issue when done legally. Just make sure that you have your BC license, you have tagged the fish and keep your customs clearance numbers in case your checked.

What's illegal is to cross the border catch the fish and then return without clearing customs. I think this is a legitimate rule and quite frankly don't understand why some guy's have such a problem with it. You are crossing the border into a foreign country after all. You wouldn't drive across the border at say Sumas, shoot an elk and then expect to bring it back here legally without clearing customs and having the appropriate BC licenses.
 

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so... if i get a canadian license and go for halibut and salmon in canada, during the salmon season in washington waters, it is legal for me to drive up to canada get my days catch of halibut and salmon and then come back to my motorhome at neah bay???? if its not legal then the enforcement officers dont seem to be doing much enforcing at neah bay cuz that happens every day with at least 20 boats.
 

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goose575713 said:
so... if i get a canadian license and go for halibut and salmon in canada, during the salmon season in washington waters, it is legal for me to drive up to canada get my days catch of halibut and salmon and then come back to my motorhome at neah bay????
It's legal without checking into customs, as long as you are conforming to the possesion limits/fin clip restriction set for Washington's Marine Area 4 for salmon. Look at line 4A in Cornfed's original post.
 

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like i said enforcement officers are not enforcing .... many guys bring back four coho and 2 halibut and 3 lings...... see it daily when im up there... and those guys are not clearing customs. Just run out to swiftsure with canadian license and run back with their Canadian limits of fish... may not be legal but i can tell you that it is happening quite frequently, if not a on a daily basis.
 

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Halibut rules are not the same as salmon. You can return canadian halibut legally to washington without clearing customs even if the washington port is closed. You cannot fish washington waters until those canadian halibut are off the boat.

I think the salmon rule is crap anyway. I am legally licensed in canada, have access to fishing canadian waters, WDFW has no say in it. If ANYTHING US Customs might, but I wasn't fishing washington waters, transporting Canadian fish through US waters isn't the same as fishing in WA waters. WDFW seems to think that we have to prove we were fishing in Canadia and not WA. Last I checked, if they are going to ticket you, they have to prove you broke the law. Last I heard it wont stand up in court. Its just another method to keep us WDFW sportsfishing prisoners from spending our dollars on Canadian Licenses. Besides, if we want a couple fresh salmon, we should just buy them like everyone else, right?

Besides, I can be in Canadian waters, catch a couple kings, swing into victoria and clear customs without leaving the dock. Or I can dock at the Government Wharf for free and walk up the steps to get a beer and some grub, then head back home. Its a piece of cake. May take an hour or so more, but if you want a couple fresh salmon and halibut and WA is too busy giving them to the other user groups to let you fish, its easy and definitely worth it. Besides.... its just another rule that they cant possibly enforce. They've got lots of those.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Elkrun said it: "Halibut rules are not the same as salmon. You can return canadian halibut legally to washington without clearing customs even if the washington port is closed."

Any day of the week you can bring halibut into Neah and you DO NOT have to meet port possession limits. Under no circumstances can you bring back yelloweye. You can bring back salmon, but they have to meet the port possession AND DAILY limit (this will be reworded in the new regs.) of the port you are entering. Therefore (hypothetically), you could leave Neah Bay, fish Canada, and land in Sekiu (on a sunday when sekiu is open), meet their port limits, without checking into Canadian or US customs....AND BE PERFECTLY LEGAL.

The other question I asked aty the boat show was "Do I have to clear customs if i did not touch land in Canada?" The answer was "NO", unless you "make port or throw anchor".

Basically, the reason for the rule (if I understand it correctly) is if we go over to Canada and catch fish on a day that it is closed in the US, then we are taking part of Canada's alotment of fish and then next time quotas are made, they will get a bigger chunk of the quota to account for the US guys going to Canada and taking their fish. This (theoretically) would lead to smaller quotas, shorter seasons, smaller possesion limits...blah blah blah for us U.S. guys.


FOR ME: This controversy was in the statement "must meet PORT POSSESSION LIMITS". I said to myself...well hell...I can do that. I can go fishing on a sunday in canada, when it is closed at neah, catch salmon in canada and come back to neah and still "meet PORT POSSESSION LIMITS". Well I was following the regs. to the "T", but it was not meant to be written that way and the WAC has it correctly stated. The regs. will be fixed either this year or the next.

In the end, what pisses me off, are the guys that are blatently breaking the law and claiming ignorance, like the guys that supposedly don't no the difference between a yelloweye and a and a copperhead or a silver and a king. Give me a break. If you don't know...don't keep it.
 
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