Bluebell carp, one of the most sought-after species in Washington state, is being threatened by overfishing and overgrazing, and is now facing a serious threat to its survival.
The bluebell, a species that has thrived in Puget Sound waters for hundreds of years, has been a favorite target of fishermen for years, often as bait to lure fish to their nets.
Bluebells have adapted well to Washington’s wetter waters, but overfished and over-grazed by a few commercial fishers and trappers have led to a collapse of populations.
As of this year, there were more than 700,000 bluebells in the state, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The number is expected to rise as fishing season continues.
In addition, some fishers are finding their catches and the fish are eating into the population, said Kevin Smith, the executive director of the Washington Association of Fish Companies.
The association, which represents more than 5,000 commercial and recreational fishers, has said that if the numbers continue to increase, the bluebell fishers will need to find other fish, Smith said.
“We know that they are a very hardy fish, but that we are not sure how to best manage the population if it continues to decline,” he said.
Fish officials in the Puget Strait, where Bluebell is found, are now in the midst of a massive effort to recover bluebell populations.
The efforts include raising fish traps and sending out fishing guides to help them catch the fish.
Smith said the group is also trying to get more fish traps out of the area, as well as the state’s fish hatchery in King County, where the Bluebelts were caught.
Smith and other fishers have also started releasing some Bluebell to the public.
The catch has been so good, the Washington Fish and Game Commission is asking the public to help with fishing for the fish, said Mike Smith, director of its Bluebell program.
Smith noted that fishing in the area has been going on since the late 1980s and 1990s, when fishermen started getting caught up in the Blue Bell fishery.
“The Bluebell are such a popular fish, that the fish have been very successful,” Smith said in a statement.
The fishery is still being managed by the fish commission, which is based in Seattle, and the state Department of Ecology.
The agency has been doing the best it can to keep Bluebell populations healthy and healthy, Smith added.
“It’s a big, big task,” he added.
Fish Commission spokesman Tom Smith said that since the BlueBell fishery began, it has become a lot more active.
The commission has released at least 8,000 fish traps in the past four years, Smith noted.
Fish have been catching Bluebell in the Gulf of Mexico since late 2015, when they were first released to the ocean, he said in an email.
The fish are being released into Puget Sounds waters to help the Blue Belts recover from overfishery, but the commission has no plans to release them back into Pugets.
The Blue Bells are the most common fish caught in Pugets, with about a quarter of the total caught being caught in the region, according the Fish and Aquatic Resources Commission.
But with the state reeling from over-fishing, the fish population is at risk, Smith stressed.
He said the Blue belts need more fish for their survival.
“They are the only fish we know that are able to withstand being out in the ocean,” he wrote in an emailed statement.
Smith has been working to get Bluebell caught and released back into the Pugets for decades, working with other fishery managers.
He says the fish were released in the 1990s and were the first fish caught by commercial fishery operators, but have since been overfought by commercial fishermen.
Smith says the Fish Commission will be working with the Fish Department and other stakeholders to find a solution to the Blue bell fishery’s problem.
“If we can find a way to manage the Bluebeards population, and then maybe find some other fish that are more attractive to catch, that might help the fishery overall,” Smith added in an interview with The Washington Post.
He also said that some fishermen may have started to release Bluebell into the area after the state decided to stop releasing them, but others continued to catch the animals.
“I think it’s an unfortunate situation that we’re in, and it’s unfortunate that it’s happening to the one species that we know is so attractive,” Smith told The Post.
“A lot of times, when you do something like that, it’s not going to make a difference.”