West Coast recreational fisheries include a diversity of stocks. Salmon are the most popular target species, but albacore, rockfish, Pacific halibut, Pacific mackerel, lingcod, clams, oysters, and Dungeness crab also are targeted in recreational fisheries.
Recreational fisheries are economically and culturally important. In 2010, over 11 million anglers took part in 72 million marine recreational fishing trips throughout the United States. Each year, 500 million saltwater fish are harvested by recreational anglers. In Washington and Oregon alone, over 417,000 anglers took part in 1.6 million marine recreational fishing trips in 2010. Annual catch in West Coast recreational fisheries has ranged from 3,800 metric tons to 5,500 metric tons.
On the West Coast, recreational fisheries primarily occur in non-federal waters (zero to three nautical miles off the coast) and are managed by the states. Inter-state coordination is facilitated through the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. The Pacific Fishery Management Council and NOAA Fisheries manage fisheries that occur within federal waters (three to 200 nautical miles off the coast). Management of these fisheries is separated into four fishery management plans: coastal pelagic species, groundfish species, highly migratory species, and salmon species.
NOAA Fisheries' Recreational Fishing Initiative
NOAA Fisheries' Recreational Fishing Initiative is a focused effort dedicated to establishing a strong working relationship with the recreational fishing community. The April 2010 Recreational Saltwater Fishing Summit marked the renewal of a conversation with the recreational fishing community to help forge a stronger partnership through dialogue and follow-up action. Summit participants highlighted a range of issues, including better catch, effort, and economic data; improved and more regular communication regionally and nationally; and more consistent inclusion of recreational interests in management processes. The October 2010 Recreational Saltwater Fisheries Action Agenda (National Action Agenda) was the outcome of this exchange.
NOAA Fisheries and recreational fishermen in the Pacific Northwest are working together to improve the responsiveness and effectiveness of NOAA's science and management programs to recreational fisheries. Consistent with the National Action Agenda, NOAA developed a Northwest Region Saltwater Recreational Fishing Action Agenda based on the following five goals:
- Improved recreational fishing opportunities
- Improved recreational catch, effort, and stock status data
- Improved recreational socio-economic data
- Improved communications
- Institutional orientation
The Northwest Action Plan was released in November 2011 to serve as a publicly available roadmap detailing regional priorities and objectives. An updated plan is being developed through a collaborative effort between NOAA and representatives from the recreational fishing community. Through collaboration, NOAA hopes to empower recreational fishermen to play a meaningful role in determining how the Northwest Regional Office and Northwest Fisheries Science Center will revise the 2011 Northwest Region Saltwater Recreational Fishing Action Agenda.