Breaking News — How to Keep Canadian Caught Salmon Legally

I just spoke with WDFW Sergeant, Kit Rosenberger who clarified what we need to do to legally fish for salmon in Canada waters and bring them back to our home port when our area is closed to the taking of salmon. He just e-mailed me the actual law, listed below, but clarified the main point, how to stay legal. As many of you know, here is what our Washington State Fishing Pamphlet reads,

“It is unlawful to possess in marine waters or land into Washington any fresh salmon taken for personal use from Canadian waters unless such salmon meet current salmon regulations for the Catch Record Card area where the salmon are landed, unless you physically clear Customs in Bedwell Harbour, Sydney, Ucluelet, Victoria, or White Rock, and get your Customs clearance number at the port. If you are in possession
of salmon that would be unlawful if taken in Washington, you may not fish in Washington waters.”

The key here is “Physically clear Customs.” Sergeant Rosenberger said anglers must obtain their Canadian Custom’s clearance number “While at dock.”

That is the key to this whole International mess, in my opinion. Since Canadian Custom’s officials have no procedure or process to have an already short staffed group of agents come to the dock for visual inspection, they simply give us a clearance number via 1-888-CAN-PASS which is legal as long as the angler is at dock in one of the five listed ports.

When I asked Rosenberger how we sports anglers prove we acquired our Canadian Custom’s clearance number he stated, “Now that is an interesting question.” Indeed it is.

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 who 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.

(b) The possession limit is two halibut if at least one halibut was taken from Washington waters. It is unlawful to possess in excess of the Canadian possession limit of halibut for the time and area fished if all 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. However, 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. 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.

WDFW Badge“To protect our natural resources and the public we serve”

Kit Rosenberger, Sergeant

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Law Enforcement Program
360-708-7254

Kit.Rosenberger@dfw.wa.gov

About John L. Beath

John Beath is a writer, photographer, videographer, blogger, tackle manufacturer & Captain at Whaler's Cove Lodge in Southeast Alaska. He is also owner of www.halibut.net and host at Lets Talk Outdoors @ www.youtube.com/jbeath
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