Letter To WDFW Director, Jim Unsworth About Fishing For Salmon in Canada

Director Unsworth,

Our current and past fishing regulation pamphlet reads as follows:
“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.”

Yesterday during a phone conversation WDFW Sergeant Rosenberger said anglers must obtain their Canadian Customs clearance number “While at dock.” This is per WAC 220-56-156

Anglers who get a Nexus Pass pass now become subject to Federal law, which has precedence over state law. This issue has become very confusing for sports anglers who have gone through the process to become a “Trusted Traveler” to the governments of Canada and the United States. Having an angler “physically” go to a Canadian government dock to obtain his or her customs clearance number is unreasonable and not in line with current federal law.

Anglers using the Nexus Program MUST clear customs upon entering Canadian waters. The clearance number they get upon calling 1-866-CAN-PASS is the only number they receive as they have cleared customs upon entering Canadian waters. Therefore, any Washington State law that requires an angler to clear customs at a specified government dock is illegal and out of line, unnecessary and a burden to the Canadian Customs if anglers were to call again from the dock in order to get clear customs again, which is not required by Canadian law.

Several anglers along the Strait of Juan de Fuca and San Juan Islands are waiting to be ticketed in order to challenge this law in court. Perhaps a clarification or change of wording  to this law, eliminating the requirement to “physically” clear customs from the government dock is in order to allow anglers with an I-68 or Nexus Pass to land salmon in Washington ports as the federal law now permits.

Your attention and response to this problem is greatly appreciated,


John L. Beath,

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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