New WDFW fishing regulations

By Meg Olson

New rules for cross-border boaters is changing how local anglers fishing in Canada need to document the origin of their catch if they bring it back into U.S. waters.

In July, the Canada Border Services Agency eliminated the requirement for boaters to call in for a customs clearance number when entering Canada if they had no intention of making landfall, which set off a series of procedural changes.

Since what is considered a formal departure has not occurred, U.S. authorities no longer require a formal arrival if a boater is simply going to Canada to fish or cruise around. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), with no customs records to keep track of fishers, is now requiring U.S. parties heading to Canada to fish for salmon to register with them before leaving.

“Canada no longer provides U.S. anglers with a way to document their legally caught salmon in Canadian waters,” WDFW announced on August 14. “In order to pass a dockside inspection upon their return to Washington, anglers need to complete a form notifying WDFW of their plans to fish in Canadian waters.”

The form is available at It requests basic trip and contact information from the boat’s captain that must be submitted prior to leaving Washington with the intent of fishing for salmon in Canada. The captain will receive an email from WDFW with a confirmation code.

“Anglers are reminded that they may not catch their daily limit of salmon in both Canadian and Washington waters on the same day,” the WDFW press release stated. “Anglers with Canadian salmon in their possession may not fish in Washington marine waters unless it is legal to retain the fish caught in Canada in the area where fishing in Washington.” A Canadian license is also required.

Boaters heading to Canada to fish for species other than salmon do not need to register with WDFW.

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