Fish Management Issues


April 6, 2008

All North Puget Sound Rivers closed on April first. If you want to fish for steelhead in Washington State, you are forced to travel to the Olympic Peninsula along with the other steelhead anglers.

Chris

March 23, 2008

I finally got through to the steelhead and salmon biologist responsible for managing the Sauk and Skagit and he confirmed that the Sauk-Suattle and Upper Skagit Tribes are netting wild steelhead in the Sauk and Skagit through early April for 28 hours a week.

I did not get a good explanation as to why this was allowed to happen, other than the fact that the Skagit Tribes never agreed to a management plan and WDFW allowed everyone to continue to fish instead of forcing the issue.

Chris

March 15, 2008

I was very disappointed to hear from a fellow angler that the Sauk-Suattle and Upper Skagit Tribes are still netting wild steelhead in the Sauk and Skagit. It seems that this is the reason for the selective fishery regulations and the early closure of the Sauk and Skagit. It really amazes me that WDFW publishes a press release stating that the Sauk and Skagit will close early to protect recently ESA listed wild steelhead while completely failing to mention that the tribes are still netting these same ESA listed fish.

The members of the Sauk-Suattle and Upper Skagit Tribes should be ashamed of themselves for harvesting wild steelhead from an ESA listed run that is below escapement.

If the tribal members are going to use the Boldt decision to justifying taking half of the harvestable "surplus", the WDFW should use the same court ruling to prevent the tribes from fishing when the run is below escapement. This situation is not unique to the Skagit and Sauk Rivers. If your river closed early this year, take it upon yourself to call WDFW and find out if there was tribal harvest of wild steelhead that is attributed to the early closure.

Chris

February 16, 2008

Good news! The Skagit, Sauk, and Cascade have gone to a selective fishery starting today, 2/16. This is a emergency regulation change that is long overdue and needed to protect the wild steelhead that are in the river right now and will stay in the river until they are done spawning in April, May, and June.

You are also allowed to harvest two hatchery steelhead per day. This is also a good thing because we want to get as many hatchery steelhead out of the river as possible to keep them from spawning with the wild fish. I am sure there will be a number of differing opinions on this regulation change, but I support it. A number of studies have been done that show the survival rate for hatchery fish that spawn in the wild is very low. When a hatchery steelhead spawns with a wild steelhead, the survival rate for those offspring is also very low. The end result...the more hatchery steelhead that spawn in the wild, the fewer wild steelhead return four years later.

WDFW has also decided to close the Skagit River system one month early. I am not exactly sure their justification for this change, but I am sure it has something to do with sharing the pain across all user groups. In all reality, the escapement goal was dropped from over 10,000 wild steelhead back in 2002, to the current goal of 6000 fish. The river system is not even meeting the reduced escapement goal. In my opinion, the goal should be much higher, considering the Skagit river is the second largest river in the state, and the 6000 fish goal is lower than the escapement goal of the Skykomish River which probably has half the habitat of the Skagit system. The Skagit River probably should not have been open for the last 6 years, minus 2006 which saw a fabulous return, and it probably should not be open until the run increases dramatically.

I would like to thank those of you that submitted comments to WDFW requesting a selective fishery on the Skagit River in February. It appears that department finally heard the voice of reason. For those of you that did not submit comments, hopefully this provides encouragement to do so in the future. I am sure this rule emergency change is temporary. With the recent ESA listing of Puget Sound Steelhead, we will most likely see many differences from the past. Hopefully the selective fishery on the Skagit System is a sign of things to come.

I posted a portion of the regulation change below. Please visit the WDFW web site for the complete reguation change.

Chris

Skagit River system steelhead rules change

Action: The Skagit, Sauk, and Cascade Rivers and Fisher Slough will go to the selective gear rules, release all fish, except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day, beginning Feb. 16, 2008.

Effective date: Feb.16, 2008 through various dates See Locations and Restrictions.

Species affected: Steelhead and all other game fish.

Locations and Restrictions: Skagit River: ∑ From mouth upstream to the Memorial Highway Bridge (Highway 536 at Mt. Vernon) effective February 16 until May 31. Selective gear rules apply, internal combustion motors allowed. Release all fish except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day. ∑ From Memorial Highway Bridge (Highway 536 at Mt. Vernon) upstream to Gilligan Creek: effective February 16 until March 15 (closed March 16 through May 31). Selective gear rules apply, internal combustion motors allowed. Release all fish, except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day. ∑ From Gilligan Creek to Dalles Bridge at Concrete effective February 16, 2008 until March 15 (closed March 16 through May 31). Selective gear rules apply, internal combustion motors allowed. Release all fish, except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day. ∑ From the Dalles Bridge at Concrete to the Highway 530 Bridge at Rockport effective February 16 until March 31(closed April 1 through May 31). Selective gear rules apply, internal combustion motors allowed. Release all fish, except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day. ∑ From the Highway 530 Bridge at Rockport to the Cascade River effective February 16 until March 31(closed April 1 through May 31). Selective gear rules apply, internal combustion motors allowed. Unlawful to fish from a floating device while under power. Release all fish except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day. ∑ From Cascade River to Gorge Powerhouse (Dam) effective February 16 until March 15 (closed March 16 through May 31). Selective gear rules apply, internal combustion motors allowed. Unlawful to fish from a floating device while under power. Release all fish except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day.

Sauk River ∑ From mouth to the Darrington Bridge effective February 16 until March 31 (closed April 1 through May 31). Selective gear rules apply. Release all fish except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day. ∑ From the Darrington Bridge to Whitechuck River effective February 16 until February 29 (closed March 1 through May 31). Selective gear rules apply. Release all fish except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day.

January 27, 2008

Action Alert from the Wild Steelhead Coalition - Wild Steelhead Management Testimony:

Please mark the date for Saturday, Feb. 2, 9:45-11:35 AM as there will be a public testimony before the Fish and Wildlife Commission in Olympia , WA regarding the WDFW recommendation of the State Steelhead Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement. After the 2004 testimony on the wild steelhead kill moratorium, as a part of the Commissionís concession in the decision, the Commission mandated to the WDFW to develop a comprehensive steelhead science study and from the study develop a new steelhead management plan, which would be the guiding policy for steelhead management in the state of Washington .

Over the last 3 + years the WSC has participated in the science paper and steelhead management plan development by reviewing and providing recommendations from our own WSC research paper and other resources as well as actively attending the majority of the stakeholder meetings to insure recommendations were addressed. Now the time has come for decision on itís implementation, while the WSC applauds the department for allowing us opportunity to participate, we have communicated that pieces have been omitted from the plan that will make it a true conservation plan that will actually aid in the recovery and diversity of wild steelhead. The WSC has recently taken action in this regard and funded two noted fisheries scientist to review specific pieces of the steelhead science and management plan to provide critical review and develop supporting information of our testimony to the Commission.

We are asking that membership attend this public hearing on Feb. 2 as an opportunity to testify and communicate to the commission that the proposed plan recommendation needs more work and is omitting critical information for real steelhead recovery. The WSC is developing talking points for our membership as communication aids in your testimony. These points will be passed on to you by early next week. We urge our membership and supporters to attend the testimony or email the Commission, this is a critical time for wild steelhead.

Thanks for your support.

Rich Simms, President, WSC

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