The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking nominations through Feb. 15 for membership on an advisory group being formed in response to the legal harvest of a giant Pacific octopus in Seattle last October.

Up to 12 qualified individuals will be chosen to serve on the ad hoc group and develop recommendations for protecting giant Pacific octopus in Puget Sound. The group will meet periodically through the end of August.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, which sets policy for WDFW, will consider the group’s recommendations in determining whether new rules are warranted for managing octopuses – and possibly other species – in Puget Sound.

Craig Burley, WDFW fish program manager, said the commission’s examination was prompted by the controversy stirred by the legal harvest of a giant Pacific octopus off Seacrest Park in Seattle last October. Under current rules, divers may legally harvest one giant Pacific octopus per day in those and most other waters of Puget Sound.

“The vast majority of divers and others who contacted WDFW about this issue said octopuses should be protected, especially at popular beaches like Seacrest Park,” Burley said. “While the information we have indicates Puget Sound’s octopus population is healthy, there may be other compelling reasons to provide greater protection for this species.”

Burley said the advisory group will be asked to develop recommendations within a range of options:

  • Close all of Puget Sound to the recreational harvest of giant Pacific octopuses.
  • Close popular dive site in Puget Sound to the recreational harvest of giant Pacific octopuses.
  • Close popular dive sites in Puget Sound to the recreational harvest of any species.
  • Take no action.

WDFW will schedule public meetings to discuss the advisory committee’s recommendations, before they are submitted to the commission for its consideration.

Burley said the department is seeking candidates with diverse backgrounds – including divers, anglers, conservationists and other interested parties – to serve on the advisory group.

Nominees do not have to be affiliated with an organized group. Nominations must be submitted in writing with the following information:

  • Nominee’s name, address, telephone number and email address.
  • Relevant experience and reasons for wanting to serve as a member of the advisory group.
  • Nominee’s effectiveness in communication.
  • Name and contact information for any individual or organization submitting a nomination.

Nominations must be received by Feb. 15. Nominations may be submitted to Craig Burley by mail: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA, 98501; or email at . For more information, contact Burley at (360) 902-2784.

Image courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

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