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Octopus receive state's protection at Deception Pass

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission extended protections for giant Pacific octopuses in Puget Sound by prohibiting the recreational harvest of the species at seven popular scuba diving sites from Whidbey Island to Tacoma.

The commission considered several options for managing the recreational harvest of giant Pacific octopuses before unanimously deciding to prohibit their harvest at Deception Pass north of Oak Harbor; Three Tree Point in Burien; Seacrest Park Coves 1, 2 and 3 near Alki Point in West Seattle; the Alki Beach Junk Yard in West Seattle; an area adjacent to the Les Davis Fishing Pier in Tacoma; the Days Island Wall in Tacoma; and Redondo Beach in Des Moines. The new rules take effect this fall.

The commission called for a review of state rules governing the recreational harvest of octopuses in January, following the legal but controversial taking of an octopus at Alki Point in October 2012. In a news release, WDFW Fish Management Program Manager Craig Burley said many sportfishers preferred the status quo, while many divers favored a Puget Sound-wide ban. Burley said the octopus population in the Sound appears to be healthy and that the current recreational harvest is small.

Several commission members favored some additional protections in recognition of the broad appeal of the species to recreational divers around the world, and the potential economic benefits of enhancing the reputation of Puget Sound as a premier diving location.

Commissioner Conrad Mahnken of Bainbridge Island said in a news release Washington is the fourth-most popular dive location in the U.S. and the only northern state in the top 10.

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