PS steelhead ESA listed

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Smalma, Mar 29, 2006.

  1. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

  2. Porter

    Porter Active Member

    With Oregon and California contemplating closing their upcoming salmon season or severly limiting it is a good idea that Washington evaluate their situation and act on any concerns and do it in a quick manner. Is it fair to say that the Washington Coast might get hit hard this upcoming season...especially with the situation of our southern neighbors....thus hurting the return of Puget Sound fish? :confused:
  3. inland

    inland Active Member


    If it does happen...what kind of good and bad news will it bring? What do you think might happen to help the habitat (both river and ocean)?

  4. Bob Triggs

    Bob Triggs Your Preferred Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide

    WDFW announced their big wild steelhead management plans today as well.
    Nice timing. (see news releases)
  5. Sageman

    Sageman Member

    If they list the steelhead under the ESA, it will probably close fishing for them altogether and limit other opportunities in those rivers listed. Once they become "threatened" they guard them pretty closely and shut down all fishing if it could potentially effect the listed species. They shut the Methow down for 7 years to all fishing when they listed the salmon. It could also potentially limit some saltwater opportunities, although steelhead are a rare bycatch, so perhaps not.

    The following is from the ESA (note bolded part C):

    (e) SIMILARITY OF APPEARANCE CASES.-The Secretary may, by regulation of commerce or taking, and to the extent he deems advisable, treat any species as an endangered species or threatened species even though it is not listed pursuant to section 4 of this Act if he finds that-(A) such species so closely resembles in appearance, at the point in question, a species which has been listed pursuant to such section that enforcement personnel would have substantial difficulty in attempting to differentiate between the listed and unlisted species;
    (B) the effect of this substantial difficulty is an additional threat to an endangered or threatened species; and
    (C) such treatment of an unlisted species will substantially facilitate the enforcement and further the policy of this Act.

    They are given a wide range of powers to protect an endangered species and will probably shut down almost all fishing that could potentially result in the "incidental" catch of a steelhead.
  6. pilchuck steelie

    pilchuck steelie New Member

    it took long enough and is about time. but i don't think it will ever happen.
    smalma, it would be interesting to get your perspective on the effects this would have on wdfw policy for salmon, steelhead and waterfowl. i mention waterfowl as the current salmon issues have caused real tremors amongst waterfowlers in the stilly/skagit area and drastically changed the course of waerfowl management in western washington. look forward to more of your insight. thanks
  7. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    Inland -
    First we need to remember that the current finding is that NMFS is proposing to list the fish but will be reviewing that finding over the next year (typcially long as they often miss their deadlines) at which time thye may or amy not actually list the fish -most would be very surprised if they don't list them. That is why the steelhead plan Bob referred to may be important - it may supply a template for management that potentially addresses the Feds concerns. From the newsrelease we in the public will get our first look at WDFW's plan in May - I'm not holding my breath about the federal response to that plan.

    To your question -
    What will happen to help the habitat? My best guess is almost nothing - maybe someone that is less of a pessimist could chime in with a different view. REmember currently the Puget Sound rivers currently have 2 ESA listed fish - bull trout and Chinook. Any critical habitat designations for bull trout provide some relief in the headwaters for steelhead while if and when the critcially habitat is designated for chinook that will cover the majority of the water used by steelhead - main stem rivers and larger tribs. There are a number of smaller streams that are used by steelhead and not by either bull trout and chinook. The majority of that habitat is either lowlands covered by ag land or urban sprawl with little likelyhood of changes in land management that will substantially benefit the overall steelhead populations. The rest of that habitat is forest lands of which the majority is all ready covered by various Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) so there will no additional protection.

    Bottom line I see little habitat benefits from a potential listing.

    As Sageman points out there will likely be limitations placed on various fisheries. If you or anyone else has a special interest in experiencing the Skagit/Sauk spring fishery the next month may be your last opportunity (next spring may also be possible but who knows). Once the fish are listed I would not expect them to be "de-listed" in your or my lifetime.

    Tight lines
  8. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    Pilchuck Steelie -
    I would expect a steelhead listing to have virtually no additional impacts on the restoration efforts in esturary areas and the conflict between the "waterfowlers" and salmon recovery. The listed or potentially listed fish that benefit the most from restoration efforts in that habitat are the Chinook so those efforts are under way.

    The whole waterfowl/salmon issue is a classic illustration of salmon politics in action. In the Skagit the biggest habitat issues for chinook salmon are the dams, forestry, urban sprawl and agiculture. The dams have allready been given approval for their actions through FERC licensing of their operation, nearly all the forestry actions are covered by HCPs all ready in place. Political reality is that we as a society are not going to touch the ongoing urban sprawl other than what is covered by the Growth Management Act (GMA). The leaves Ag and the estuary area which has not been given a get out of jail card which quickly became the focus of the vast majority of the recovery effort. Not surprisely they balked at being that focus. They pushed hard and our public decision makers have agreed that first recovery restoration efforts in that area will be on public lands.

    The reality the vast majority of the public land in the Skagit estuary is owned by WDFW, much of which had been used to support crops for waterfowl use and waterfowl hunting. This has put both the waterfowl hunters and WDFW in the cross hairs of restoration efforts on the lower Skagit.

    Tight lines
  9. inland

    inland Active Member


    Thanks for taking the time to respond. I think you are being far more realistic than pessimistic.

  10. Jason Decker

    Jason Decker Active Member

    i hope they put the native steelies on C&R FLY ONLY
  11. ChrisW

    ChrisW AKA Beadhead

    Not sure what it takes to start up a Fly Only season. -A fair amount of work I would guess. But it would make sense that ANY river containing a wild run would be Selective Gear Rules after Jan 1, at a MINIMUM.

    There is precedent in keeping certain rivers open (given a suffiecient run size) in the face of ESA listing, such as the Sauk/ Skagit: ESA listed bull trout are legal to target, and even to keep (over 20").

    I think it makes sense to keep rivers open that can handle a C&R fishery because otherwise it would increase pressure on other rivers (like the ones on the OP). I would have to leave it to others to do the science to see if the Sauk Skagit can continue with the Spring C&R fishery.

    ESA listing could also increase the penalties for poaching or other illegal take I believe.

    Interesting quote from the WDFW news release:
    "There are no directed fisheries on wild steelhead in Puget Sound and most of the state, although wild steelhead fishing is allowed on some coastal rivers under a one-fish annual limit".

    Is the Skagit Sauk Spring C&R fishery a "Directed Fishery" or are we ostensibly fishing for trout and releasing wild steelhead if one of those pesky buggers grabs our fly? :confused:

  12. john wells

    john wells New Member

    I suppose that directed is a nice word for kill fishery the skagit fishery a c@r fishery is a no kill fishery I am too a realist and have been waiting for this to happen for years and if this gives my 8 year son a chance to catch and release a skagit native 30 years from now I'll be smiling somewhere, switching to trout in the spring won't be to bad, just going to have to switch back to the one hander.
  13. gt

    gt Active Member

    the question in my mind is whether or not WDFW will finally stop the wild steelhead kill. i am not holding my breath on this one.