Coast Guard enforces fishery regulations on Washington’s Hood Canal

Petty Officer 2nd Class Leif Anderson, a boarding officer assigned to Coast Guard Cutter Wahoo, an 87-foot patrol boat homeported in Port Angeles, Wash., disembarks a commercial fishing vessel after conducting a safety boarding as part of Operation North Falcon II in Hood Canal, Wash., Oct. 30, 2014. In addition to safety equipment checks, boarding officers also educated fishermen on proper procedures while fishing near traffic separation schemes. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class George Degener)

Petty Officer 2nd Class Leif Anderson, a boarding officer assigned to Coast Guard Cutter Wahoo, an 87-foot patrol boat homeported in Port Angeles, Wash., disembarks a commercial fishing vessel after conducting a safety boarding for Operation North Falcon II in Hood Canal, Wash., Oct. 30, 2014.

Story and photos by Petty Officer 1st Class George Degener.

Underneath a grey October sky that blended almost seamlessly with the waters of Washington’s Hood Canal, lines of orange floats stretched across the water attached to what are known as cork lines. These lines, attached to a fishing boat, are the upper extremity of commercial gill nets, set by fishermen across routes known to be frequented by salmon.

Gill net and purse seine Chum Salmon fishing opened for recreational, commercial and tribal fishermen Oct. 5, and is expected to be open for five-to-six weeks. From Oct. 28 through Oct. 30, Coast Guard personnel spent each day underway conducting educational outreach and safety boardings in three different Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife marine areas. Dubbed Operation North Falcon II, Coast Guard crews were active in WDFW areas 7, 10 and 12, historically the most active areas for gill net and purse seine fishermen.

Law enforcement officers assigned to Coast Guard Cutter Wahoo, an 87-foot patrol boat homeported in Port Angeles, Wash., conduct a safety boarding, during Operation North Falcon II, aboard the commercial fishing vessel Wanda Lee in Hood Canal, Wash., Oct. 30, 2014.

North Falcon II involved personnel from Coast Guard units across the Puget Sound, including: the Joint Harbor Operations Center and Vessel Traffic Service in Seattle; Station Seattle; Station Bellingham, Washington; Air Station Port Angeles, Washington; and the Coast Guard cutters Wahoo, Adelie, Blue Shark and Sea Lion, 87-foot patrol boats homported in Port Angeles, Everett and Bellingham, Washington. Operating under the tactical control of Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound, in Seattle, law enforcement crews conducted nine boardings, issued four notices of violations, and conducted Naval Vessel Protection Zone education for 16 vessels in Hood Canal.

Petty Officer 2nd Class John Reich, Petty Officer 1st Class Manuel Bencomo and Petty Officer 2nd Class Leif Anderson, crewmembers assigned to Coast Guard Cutter Wahoo, an 87-foot patrol boat homeported in Port Angeles, Wash., prepare to launch the cutter’s small boat during Operation North Falcon II, Oct. 30, 2014. Wahoo’s crew spent three days conducting educational outreach and safety boardings aboard commercial fishing vessels in Hood Canal, Wash. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class George Degener)

Petty Officer 2nd Class John Reich, Petty Officer 1st Class Manuel Bencomo and Petty Officer 2nd Class Leif Anderson, crewmembers assigned to Coast Guard Cutter Wahoo, an 87-foot patrol boat homeported in Port Angeles, Wash., prepare to launch the cutter’s small boat during Operation North Falcon II, Oct. 30, 2014.

WDFW Marine Area 12 encompasses all waters south of the Hood Canal Bridge and features views of the Olympic Mountains on clear days. Depending on wind direction, these waters also provide protection from heavy weather and excellent fishing expectations. Hood Canal is also marked by a traffic separation scheme frequented by U.S. Navy ship traffic heading to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Washington.

On Oct. 30, crewmembers assigned to the Coast Guard Cutter Wahoo spent the day on Hood Canal making sure that the fishermen in their quest for salmon are aware of Navigation Rule 10, which prohibits vessels engaged in fishing from impeding the passage of any vessel following a traffic lane, and are following the regulations governing the fisheries.

“Our goal during Operation North Falcon II was to engage local commercial fishermen about the importance of maintaining clear waterways for large commercial and Naval vessel traffic, while still being afforded the opportunity to fish,” said Lt. j.g. Benjamin Romano, commanding officer of Cutter Wahoo. “We also assisted the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in the enforcement of fishing regulations to ensure the local species remain abundant in the future.”

Wahoo crewmembers also alerted WDFW personnel of a vessel engaged in fishing in a closed area, resulting in issuance of a notice of violation.

For more information on Puget Sound Chum Salmon fisheries click here.

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