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Washington and Oregon schedule public meetings on white sturgeon rule changes
OLYMPIA - Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon have scheduled six public meetings this month to discuss possible changes in those states' white sturgeon fisheries in 2013 and ensuing years.

Each meeting will begin with an update on the status of white sturgeon populations, followed by a public discussion of possible options for future management of the fishery.

Responding to recent declines in the abundance of white sturgeon on the Columbia River, both states have reduced catch guidelines by 30 to 40 percent in each of the past three years. Harvest levels have also declined for sturgeon in coastal fisheries and in Puget Sound.

"It's no secret that catch guidelines for white sturgeon have declined significantly in recent years," said Brad James, sturgeon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). "We would like to hear from the fishing public how they would prefer we structure future seasons and regulations to reflect those changes."

James said key topics of discussion will include season length, number of retention days per week, fishing gear and catch allocation.

Dates and locations of the remaining public meetings are:

July 24 - Raymond: Elks Lodge #1292, 326 Third St., 6-8 p.m. (Contact: 360-249-4628)

July 26 - Mill Creek: 16018 Mill Creek Blvd., 6-8 p.m. (Contact: 425-775-1311)

July 31 - Montesano: City Hall, 112 N. Main St., 6-8 p.m. (Contact: 360-249-4628)