Puget Sound steelhead declared "threatened"

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Nick Andrews, May 7, 2007.

  1. Coach Duff

    Coach Duff Banned or Parked

    If reading that makes you tired big J, wait till your read the state's newfangled plan to save the steelhead. After all the fact finding committees, and opinions from all of the experts, the 917 page report will come out. 7 Years from now of course. In the meantime, they'll close enough rivers to keep the FEDS out. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Coach
  2. James Mello

    James Mello Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"

    I don't really know what this means in the whole scheme of things, but in general the state has already done as much can be done without habitat changes. There is 100% release, barely any kind of C&R season, and rivers that are closed year round (Nisqually comes to mind).

    I'm not sure if the "threatened" status has enough teeth to make a difference against the development juggernaught. I certainly hope that as concerned citizens we can make a difference, but the first thing we can do is take action. If you yourself can't, then get involved with an orginaztion that can do most of the leg work. American Rivers, Sierra Club, Wild Steelhead coalition, Washington Trout, etc... If one doesn't float your boat, I'm sure another will.

    I love the posts Coach, but in this case, less retorhic and more action is required, but being hamstrung in Hawaii makes it kinda hard for you ;) I understand the dispair, but since there *IS NOT* a plan in place, let's get involved before we sit around like a bunch of schmoes complaining about how someone else F'd up steelhead.

    (And before you jump on me I know for a *FACT* coach does his part. The question is, can anyone else claim the same?)
  3. o mykiss

    o mykiss Active Member

    I suppose this step mostly just confirms what most of us already knew. Still, it's a sad development.

    Does anyone know for sure the extent to which the tribes are even allowed to net Puget Sound rivers? Forget about the Olympic Peninsula streams, since they are not the subject of this listing. I'd like to know the extent to which tribes today are allowed to net the rivers that are covered by this listing. Although the WDFW publishes a tribal netting schedule for coastal streams, I can't find anything helpful on the site about tribal netting of Puget Sound streams. Is that because tribes are no longer allowed to net these rivers?

    My wholly uneducated guess is that the decline of Puget Sound steelhead stocks has more to do with continued habitat degradation and hatchery practices than tribal netting. I'm open to being proven wrong. With respect to hatchery practices, hopefully this listing provides a ray of hope in that now the state alone can't decide how and where hatcheries are going to be used. I'd like to see NOAA get very muscular about oversight of hatchery practices, but any hope that they will is probably naïve. As much as I love to fish for steelhead, I'd love to see the state shut down hatcheries in every river that flows into Puget Sound, and shut down all fishing as well, at least for a few years so we can see what the impacts on wild stocks are. Screw the scientific hypotheses that state and tribal bios constantly throw out to justify the continued use of hatcheries. Let's just turn off the hatchery spigot for a while and do a real, live experiment. Is there any need for hatcheries on these Puget Sound rivers other than to support tribal and recreational fisheries? If so, couldn't we all find something else to do for 5 - 10 years to figure out if eliminating hatcheries would help wild stock rebound?

    The habitat issues are more vexing. I'm not sure what this listing accomplishes on that front because people will always argue (and the feds seem to agree too often) that any single land use proposal is not a threat to listed species. This seems incredibly short-sighted, of course, because it is likely that the accumulation of land use impacts is the biggest single culprit in the decline of PS steelhead. It will take incredibly bold steps on land use regulations to make a difference, and it seems highly unlikely that those steps will result from pressure from the feds. If we want to see those steps, they need to be taken at all levels of government, but particularly at the county and state level. I sincerely doubt that will happen in this state, regardless of which party is in power. Let's face it, fish are "out of sight, out of mind" for the vast majority of people.
  4. FT

    FT Active Member

    These are the Puget Sound rivers being netted and the tribes doing the netting that I know about. The Nooksack River is netted by the Nooksack and Lummi Tribes. The Skagit is netted by the Swinomish, Upper Skagit, and Sauk-Suiattle Tribes. The Snohomish is netted by the Tulalip Tribe. The Green is netted by the Muckleshoot Tribe. The Puyallip is netted by the Puyallip Tribe. The Nesqually is netted by the Nisqually tribe.
  5. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    O. mykiss -
    the following link has the sport and tribal catches though I see that 2001/02 is the last year that is readily available for catches.


    For 2001/02 the tribal catches can be found on pages 38 and 39. While the catches are not broken out by hatchery and wild the timing of the catches will give you some insight into the origin of the fish. As I recall until the last couple years 2001/02 would be fairly typcial of the catches. In the last couple years it is my understanding that both the Skagit tribes and Tulalips have increased to some degree their fishing later in the year.

    Tight lines
  6. James Mello

    James Mello Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"

    Are they being netted during steelhead season? The Nisqually is netted during the late chum season, but that winds up in mid Jan....
  7. Derek Day

    Derek Day Rockyday

    My question is will there be much impact on the tribes? What has been the impact of other listings on tribal netting? Recently tribes are being treated with more and more regard for their autonomy. I assume their bigggest impact on wild steelhead is in bycatch. Does anyone have numbers on the tribal impact on different species?

    Development is probably the biggest threat, it's easy to point to netting, but netting wouldn't be a problem if the streams could produce larger runs. But then again, should netting even be occuring on rivers with fragile populations? Probably not. Development will have to be slowed and improved. We'll need higher percentages of pervious surfaces, restrictions on what you can put on your lawn (lawns are stupid!), systems for dispersing run off over a longer period of time, mandatory rain gardens, anything happening in the watersheds will need to be monitored. It would be great to see a moritorium on further development, until the impacts were assessed and plans were made to mitigate them. We have seriously needed responsible development measures in the area for a long time. The thing is that a lot of these things are manageable and would help tremendously, the issue just doesn't have the saliency in the area, or the political will. I really doubt that anything substantial will come of listing--there's just too much money moving things in the opposite direction.

    Retro fitting would be important too. You could give tax breaks for those who choose to make fish friendly improvements on their house or property, and tax others for blatantly harmful practices.
  8. Bob Triggs

    Bob Triggs Your Preferred Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide

    This listing is an inevitable outcome of nearly two centuries of abuse of habitat and the fish directly. I would agree that, to the non-fishing public and most legislators and managers, we sport anglers of any ilk come off as being just as self-serving and fatuous as the rest of the resource "user groups", including the tribes. We protect our turf. We want our fishing. We are all fighting over the very last fish to come home. I dont find this listing coming now as being as significant as all of the devious political management crap that has been pulled off for years in the lame attempt to prevent it from happening. And this has been as much by warring sport-angler groups as by wdfw it's self. And while we are "bashing the state", let's not forget what a federal judge did for this situation thirty plus years ago.

    Someone here mentioned that we should "forget the Olympic Peninsula streams", (as they aren't a part of this listing etc.) But every serious closure and limit placed on the Puget Sound river system Steelhead and Salmon fisheries has had a direct and nearly immediate impact on the Olympic Peninsula rivers and fish. With each new closure hoardes of anglers, not to mention the troop of whiz-kid-shiny-faced-overnight-expert-Olympic-Peninsula-guides, have come out to the Peninsula in droves to hammer the last viable runs of fish by all means possible- including "Catch and Release".

    River by river, run by run, the anadromus fish runs of this region are being pummeled into extinction. Yes, we know that harvest, habitat, hatcheries etc are a huge problem- That the human race is in general the problem. But what are we willing to give up personally to make the real difference? All of this points to the individual and to personal choice and lifestyle. It also points to getting involved on a committed basis and working as individuals to create change. Not just for our fishing, but for the health of the ecology of the entire region. If you think of it as an investment, rather than as a sacrifice, we will make more progress.

    And yes- maybe it is time to stop fishing for these fish too.
  9. Be Jofus G

    Be Jofus G Banned or Parked

    There already are federal tax breaks for building "Green Homes". Developers aren't including these in the crack house culdesac quadrant erector set mansion homes because it costs the "Developer" more per lot to build. Only the consumer gets the tax break.
  10. Chris DeLeone

    Chris DeLeone Active Member

    With this listing will Steelhead now be counted by non-tribal commerical fishing or will they still be "Bi-Catch"?? The only harvest numbers I see are Tribal and sport, I have never seen non-tribal commercial counts.

    What will this listing do with the Puget Sound fish that are harvested in Canada - do we have a program for negotiating harvest in the Canadian waters or even Alaska? What is their impact on our rivers?

    In their current state what could our rivers hold now (Sky, Skagit/Sauk) in wild steelhead population? Two Three Four more times the fish?? All we say is the habitat is poor - what more could these rivers hold?

    People who care about steelhead are for the most part people who fish for them, or could and choose not to - if we, as anglers, loose the choice to fish for steelhead over the next years, we'll all go on to other things and nobody will have the passion for the fish. If no one has the passion for steelhead who will stand up for them? No one will care. My opinion is we, as anglers, need to fish hard and stand-up for the resource. Duffs example of the Wenatchee is great - only the old guys know how good that river was. The next generation will never know what its like to hook a Wenatchee dry fly hen. If we lose it now its gone forever. The generation before us failed to see what the impacts would be on the fish, its our generation's responsiblilty to make sure we keep fishing and stand up for the fish. Just my thoughts.

  11. HauntedByWaters

    HauntedByWaters Active Member

    You noticed this too! iagree
  12. o mykiss

    o mykiss Active Member

    Smalma, thanks for the link. The data is pretty old, so needs to be taken with a grain of salt, but assuming no major changes in the last 5 years the conclusion I would draw from this is that the tribal impact on Puget Sound steelhead populations is negligible. (Clearly, the coastal streams are experiencing significant tribal catch, but the catch reported on Puget Sound streams looks to be pretty minor.) In fact, if the data is accurately captured, its probably safe to assume that the incidental mortality from the hordes of sport C&R fisherman is more of a factor. Would sure love to see more recent data on this, but if the pattern holds, it's time to point the fingers of blame at factors other than tribal harvest.
  13. James Mello

    James Mello Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"

    Yeah, that's the ugly part. At some point in the past things fell apart in some streams and haven't been put back together again. The rivers I'm most interested in are the Hood Canal rivers, and the Nisqually. The habitat degredation isn't as severe there, but still no fish... Last SASI data I remember for the N was that it was around 300 wild fish. Considering that quite a bit of it is running through Fort Lewis, and that it's going through a pretty nasty canyon, I'm amazed it doesn't have more fish. Apparently in it's heyday, it had something like *7000* fish returning to it.

    One *could* argue that this points to habitat not being a limiting reagent, but there are lots of other rivers systems where it's pretty much a beautiful curve fit between population growth and decreasing steelhead numbers.
  14. gt

    gt Active Member

    tribal catch in puget sound is negligable????????????? are you kidding me??????????????????

    latest PSA newpaper puts the tribal catch at somthing like 60-70% of allowable harvest in PS. since there don't seem to be any current data, we all have to take this with some degree of skepticism. but even so, the indiscriminate fishing practices of the native americans guarantee the continued killing of listed fishes. with no one monitoring their activities, we have the fox in the hen house while all of us keep arguing about whether or not we will stop fishing to save wild fish.

    good grief, lets level the playing field, FIRST with all of us who touch fish. after that happens lets all start in after the developers, ranchers, irrigators, dam builders, loggers and the rest of the citizens of this state.

    get the damn nets out first!
  15. o mykiss

    o mykiss Active Member

    GT - did you bother looking at the data in the WDFW report that Smalma linked to? I'm not talking about the Olympic Peninsula, where the tribes obviously net the crap out of the rivers. Look at the friggin' data on tribal steelhead harvest in what Smalma linked to and then tell me the tribes are the problem on Puget Sound streams. I don't know, maybe you could convince me that 0, or 22, or even 292 (which numbers presumably are a mix of wild and hatchery) fish on a particular river are what has led to this ESA listing, but I doubt it. If you're so cocksure that tribal netting is such a huge factor when it comes to Puget Sound steelhead stocks Why don't you post a link to data that shows that? Maybe you could start with a link to anything that indicates that tribes are taking 60 - 70% of the "allowable harvest" (and what numbers the allowable harvest represents) on Puget Sound streams.
  16. FT

    FT Active Member


    The Skagit is netted through April, so to answer your question, yes, tribal netting is having an impact on the Skagit's and Sauk's wild steelhead. The Skagit, Nooksack, Snohomish, Green, Puyallup are netted December through February specifically for steelhead. I think the Tulalips have been netting the Snohomish into March; but I'm not sure. In other words, yes, the tribes are targeting steelhead in Puget Sound Rivers.

    However, habitat degradation, diking rivers, ditching small streams, building on floodplains, poaching, poor fish handling when releasing fish, and bi-catch all have an impact. It isn't just the tribes who are killing wild steelhead in Puget Sound rivers.


    The state cannot get the tribal nets out because of Bolt's ruling, which made the tribes and state co-managers of the fishery. And neither side can tell the other side what to do with its share of the fish according to the judge's ruling. It would take NOAA-F or National Marine Fisheries to do so with the justification that it is needed to prevent the loss of the fish.
  17. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member


    It's important to define the catch area as PS rivers, and also to consider that hatchery fish are not part of this ESA listing. PS Tribes do gillnet steelhead, mostly in Dec - Feb specifically to limit the number of wild steelhead that are harvested. Just as the sport steelhead harvest in PS is aimed at hatchery steelhead, so is the treaty harvest.


    While the Skagit is netted into April in recent years, the number harvested is a small fraction of that harvested during the period when the hatchery fish return, same as with the sport harvest. Just because some wild steelhead are netted doesn't make that the proximate cause of population decline. Frankly, I wish tribes would totally stop netting steelhead so that when the runs don't suddenly increase, those anglers who are holding on to their treaty netting anger issues will maybe finally let that excuse go.

  18. HauntedByWaters

    HauntedByWaters Active Member

    I think anyone who believes the numbers reported by Native commercial fishermen is living in a pipe dream. I have seen some CRAZY SHIT at the mouth of the Nooksack River done by some dirt poor looking Native peoples. It made me feel sorry for them and sorry the steelhead.

    I used to be a commercial fisherman in the Puget Sound and it definately wasn't an honest game either. Commercial fishermen want the $$$$$ just like everybody else. Max dollars come from dishonesty ALWAYS.

    Why would a comercial fishermen want to report honest numbers if it most likely means losing more rights and making less money.....It seems totally retarded to count on their honesty as they are absolutely the most biased people in this situation.

    Again I am saying this from first hand experience and not as a dumb shit in the big city who prefers his salmon charred lightly.
  19. inland

    inland Active Member

    'Max dollars come from dishonesty ALWAYS'

    There is the root, trunk, and branches of the problem.

  20. o mykiss

    o mykiss Active Member

    Probably true, but no more suspect than harvest numbers reported by non-tribal recreational anglers, not to mention the fact that even well-intended C&R anglers kill fish from poor fish handling and overplaying. If the problem really is harvest (in all its myriad forms, including incidental mortality), then it seems to me the only answer is to ban all fishing and step up enforcement in a massive way to make sure that no one is taking fish.