PS steelhead may be listed

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by ray helaers, Apr 5, 2005.

  1. ray helaers

    ray helaers New Member

    This was published in today's Federal Register:

    SUMMARY: NMFS received a petition
    from Mr. Sam Wright on September 13,
    2004, to list Puget Sound (Washington)
    steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) as a
    threatened or endangered species under
    the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
    NMFS finds that the petition presents
    substantial scientific and commercial
    information indicating that the
    petitioned action may be warranted.
    Accordingly, NMFS is initiating a status
    review of the species. To ensure that the
    status review is complete and based
    upon the best available scientific and
    commercial information, NMFS is
    soliciting information regarding the
    viability of, and threats to, Puget Sound
    O. mykiss populations, efforts being
    made to protect the species, and the
    names of potential peer reviewers.
    DATES: Information and comments on
    the subject action must be received by
    June 6, 2005
    ADDRESSES: You may submit comments
    and information by any of the following
    methods. Please identify submittals as
    pertaining to the ‘‘Puget Sound O.
    mykiss status review update.’’
    • E-mail:
    Include ‘‘Puget Sound O. mykiss status
    review update’’ in the subject line of the
    • Federal e-rulemaking portal: http://
    • Mail: Submit written comments and
    information to Chief, NMFS, Protected
    Resources Division, 1201 NE Lloyd
    Boulevard, Suite 1100, Portland, OR
    97232. You may hand-deliver written
    comments to our office during normal
    business hours at the street address
    given above.
    • Hand Delivery/Courier: NMFS,
    Protected Resources 1201 NE Lloyd
    Boulevard, Suite 1100, Portland, OR
    • Fax: 503–230–5441
    further information regarding this action
    contact Garth Griffin, NMFS, Northwest
    Region, (503) 231–2005, or Marta
    Nammack, NMFS, Office of Protected
    Resources, (301) 713–1401.

    Speaking from prior experience, I would expect this process to take about a another year. Under the law, NOAA should have made this announcement, which is known as a 90-day finding, before Dec 13 (as you might expect from the name), then they are supposed to make the final listing determination within 12-months of the petition date (unless the 90-day finding rejects the petition). In reality, though, the 90-day finding is generally not made until the 12-month deadline has passed and somebody sues, then the 12-month finding is usually made 12 to 24 months after the "90-day" finding. So in this case, only about four months late on the 90-day finding, they're failrly ahead of schedule, suggesting that they may not be able to find a way out of this one.

    At any rate, this is your opportunity to get involved. If you want to see the entire Federal Register Notice, which includes background information, check:

    My own opinion is that this is long overdue.
  2. Bob Triggs

    Bob Triggs Your Preferred Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide

    I remember reading Amilee Wilson's paper and seeing her presentation at Fort Worden during the Steelhead Conference meetings. Her paper was originally entitled something like: "Puget Sound ESU Steelhead- Why aren't they listed?". But of course the top brass at wdfw could not stand to have that kind of reality-check in their own staff's work- so they wiped the title clean and reworded it.

    Listing? About damned time!
  3. MDL

    MDL We work to become, not to acquire.

    Thanks for the update and will inform others to start writing. It is far overdue and hope that the data presented will not be overlooked or be given in to political pressure. Will letters to local gov't also help to support this on the federal level?
  4. Nailknot

    Nailknot Active Member

    That's what happens when you can't get your house in order. The Feds repossess your assets. I think the first of many pending reality checks for our woeful state leadership.
  5. Bob Triggs

    Bob Triggs Your Preferred Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide

    I really do believe that the day has come that we have to make a choice for "fishing", or for the fish. But we cant have both anymore. We are at the point where we will have an outright moratorium on fishing. They waited too long.
  6. Desmond Wiles

    Desmond Wiles Sir Castaline

    It is long overdue, my letter has been sent!
  7. wet line

    wet line New Member

    This is something that should have been done a long time ago. The state has allowed politics to govern our fisheries and the philosophy of maximum harvest has been devastating.

    Hopefully the state will support this effort but I have serious doubts. It is a crime that the Feds have to be called in to manage our state resources. But if our elected officials want to continue to turn their backs on a real problem then so be it!

  8. Ken Hunter

    Ken Hunter Member

    I too look at this as a positive step. What I noticed was a different attitude from the press. Last night on King 5 News this story actually made up a short portion of the show. They even showed a picture of a steelhead.

    That is a big change. When WDFW changed the rules to allow the one wild fish retention, these same people had a lead in of "good news for fisherman".

    When the press talks freely about an issue like this, people start to take notice. Now if your local politician would include the word steelhead whenever they "save the salmon" thing will get done.
  9. MDL

    MDL We work to become, not to acquire.

    Let's also tell the media the reasons why Wild Steelhead are in trouble, from fishermen. Media List
  10. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

    This is almost like closing the barn door after the horse got out. This is something that has been happening here in the Puget Sound region for many years. Why wasn't something done after the first couple of years of no fish coming back. So why did they wait so long. :(

    But they only listed the Puget Sound area,not the whole State.

    Will say no more on this subject as this is way over my head.

  11. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    The tone of your posts interest me! How is it that you can view such a thing as the listing of Puget Sound steelhead as a good thing? What is your expectations on how the listing will improve the situation of our steelhead?

    Tight lines
    S malma
  12. TomB

    TomB Active Member

    Smalma- Well I for one would be happy to see Federal Law limiting "take". It would also take pressure off of the state to appease native fishing because if the feds have recognized that the fish are in trouble, the state would feel less vulnerable to legal trouble for limiting native fisheries as well as sports fisheries under the boldt decision. ESA listing has what I would consider to be positive effects on habitat management as well. In general, I don't favor species being listed, but in cases where other management has failed to sustain runs, it may be neccessary. And yes, we may be in a downturn in ocean survival, but many runs are at unprecedented low numbers, and i refuse to believe that habitat damage and fishing pressure are not STILL affecting fish.

    Why don't you think it would help Smalma?

  13. o mykiss

    o mykiss Active Member

    Smamla, do I detect a little sensitivity here? In your previous posts, one can discern a consistent theme that the WDFW's policy decisions should be considered beyond reproach because they rest on rock solid scientific data and modeling; that criticism of the WDFW's long-term record is unjustified because other factors over which the WDFW has no jurisdiction are the real culprits in the demise of these fish. Fair enough. I'd be willing to concede that other factors are the principal culprits just so we wouldn't have to listen to the WDFW's excuses for a while. Listing would finally give government the power to try to tackle some of the factors that the WDFW has told us are the real problems. Think of it as a golden opportunity for the department to be proven right that they had no culpability in the decline of these fish! If the WDFW thinks the status quo is a better option for Puget Sound steelhead, in my mind that may be the most compelling reason for an ESA listing. ;)

    Anyway, you're the expert - please tell us why an ESA listing would not improve the situation for Puget Sound steelhead. We're all smart enough to figure out that it wouldn't be good for angling opportunities, but it's a little counterintuitive that it would actually be bad for the fish. I'd like to know why the status quo is a better option.
  14. ray helaers

    ray helaers New Member

    I'll go ahead and put a fine point on it. Maybe they think it would be a good thing that the feds would have ultimate authority over the management of PS steelhead, instead of the state agency that has managed the resource to the point where extinction is now a very real danger. The conservation of PS steelhead populations has been WDFW's bailywick, no? Based on current conditions on the ground, performance appears to have been lacking. It seems the very best that can be said is that the dept has absolutely failed to counteract all those "other factors" that have led this public trust to where it is. Maybe it's about time they had somebody looking over their shoulder.
  15. Bob Triggs

    Bob Triggs Your Preferred Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide

    Say Hey Ray! iagree
  16. Jumbo

    Jumbo Member


    If this goes down, what are the impacts on CnR fisheries?

    The state and the tribes (harvest) are to blame here. Some may mention "other factors," and I agree that habitat degradation, affected stream hydrodynamics, skyrocketing population, etc, etc, are at play here. But our "stewards" at WDFW have done little more than pull their thumbs out once in awhile to smell their own BS.


  17. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    First let me say that I do not disagree that the Puget Sound wild steelhead numbers have declined and that low abundance is cause for grave concern. Let's be clear that in 1996 the feds determined that Puget Sound steelhead did not warrent listing. The question then becomes have the condition of the wild steelhead in the Puget Sound ESU changed enough to review that status determination - the feds said yes. The next question should they be listed which is larger and more detailed question. Factors including the current population abundances will go into that determination. We can discuss those factors that Sam Wright did a very good job of identify later if folks wish.

    Tom -
    I guess I can understand where you are coming from but let's look at what the likely result of listing will be and what that may have on the take of the resource. If NOAA fisheries determines to list the wild steelhead of the Puget Sound I find it hard to believe they will be listed as anything other than "threatened". Under a ESA threatened status what we have seen in other areas upper limits on the take under incidental impacts at 10% (I believe that is the impact cap on the lower Columbia winter steelhead -Ray that is the answer to that question we were discussing on PP). With other species that limit of impacts have varied by species and river system. For the Skagit summer/fall chinook allowable ESA take impacts is limited to 50%.

    In recent years with possible exception of the Skagit I don't think there is any steelhead population in the ESA have had a incidental and/or directed take that approaches 10%. Therefore I don't we'll much change in the fishing impacts on the stocks of concern from the listing. One thing that may change is that NOAA has long considered it's treaty trust responsbility to be on parr with its ESA responsbility. As a result like with the upper Columbia the majority of the allowable ESA limited impacts may well be reserved for the treaty tribes to access hatchery steelhead and other salmonids.

    O mykiss -
    With a listing I don't see any improvement in the badly needed habtiat arena that we currently have or may see. The major reason first and foremost is that virtually all the critcial habitat needed for steelhead is covered under the listings of Puget Sound Chinook and bull trout. This is doubly so with the recent backing off of critical habitat protection by the current federal adminstration.

    In a more perfect world one would hope that a listing would result in both the protection that you both expect. However I'm learning that we live in a world that is far from perfect.

    With hatchery programs continuing throughout the state in spite of ESA listings I would not expect to see many changes in various steelhead hatchery programs either.

    A listing may address two past management errors -
    1) Increased protection of the resident rainbow portion of the O mykiss complex would be helpful - especially in this period of low marine survival.

    2) As part of the recovery planning progress I would also expect to see some evaluation and probable changes in escapement goals for Puget Sound wild steelhead.

    In short a listing of Puget Sound steelhead will result in another layer of bureaucracy and an extremely intensive and drawn out recovery planning process. While ESA planning has become a growth industry in this State I'm not sure many would welcome that additional work load and budget drains. Especially given the likely small pay-off in benefits.

    Hopefully I'm unduly pessimistic and things will work out for the better but my experience with chinook and bull trout don't leave me hopefull.

    Tight lines
    S malma
  18. Teeg Stouffer

    Teeg Stouffer Fish Recycler

    But! An ESA listing would also mean, at least for a short time, an opportunity to put a bullhorn on this issue.

    An inroad for media access! Hope of putting a blip on the radar of public consciousness!

    If only for that opportunity, I'm hopeful...
  19. Davy

    Davy Active Member

  20. wet line

    wet line New Member

    Smalma, I am not at all happy to see another layer of government having to be brought to bear on our fisheries. However, the state has failed to do their job. I am pointing a finger at the politicians, not WDFW as their hands are tied by political decisions.

    A new paradyme is needed. If California can get runs of salmon and steelhead back then so can Washington. I am not buying the old whipping boys, ocean conditions and habitat degredation as the primary problems. Concerns yes, but harvest management is the big issue. Gill nets in all their forms need to go away. This is the only state in the lower 48 that still allow them. Where this form of fishing has been eliminated fish have returned. True, other things were done to help the fishery, but gill nets are bad news. Perhaps the state needs to buy out some of the commercial licenses or renegotiate some treaties. Maybe the state needs to change its basic goals of sustaining a commercial harvest to that of maximizing run size.

    The ball has been in the states hands and as far as I am concerned it has been dropped. To reiterate, I don't like the idea of the feds coming in to do what the state should be doing. But if something isn't changed quickly this entire issue is going to be mute. The steelhead will be gone.


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