"Sustainably harvested" wild steelhead alert

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Evan Burck, Feb 9, 2011.

  1. SMC,

    Naturally I'll stick by my statement you quoted, but let's understand that there's always room for distinctions between general and specific cases. My remark addressed PS wild steelhead runs. On the coast things are different. On the positive side, wild steelhead runs are stronger. On the downside, there is a lack of agreement about how steelhead should be managed. The Quinault Tribe has taken the position favoring integrated populations where, by fiat of policy decree, not scientific, that hatchery and wild fish are equal. We have sufficient science to know now that they are not. And we have data showing that the upper Quinault is chronically underescaped of wild steelhead, and the Queets only makes escapement half the years or less, and now the Humptulips and Chehalis basin are getting to be consistently under-escaped.

    I can support any treaty Tribe's right to fish, and even the non-treaty Chehalis Tribe for that matter. But that doesn't extend to supporting anyone to deliberately turn a blind eye to science and choose to harvest wild fish well beyond incidental levels and deeply into what should be escapement numbers.

    While treaty fishing, or any fishing is not the proximate cause of PS wild steelhead run status, at the rate things are going, treaty fishing could end up being the proximate cause of future ESA listing of coastal steelhead, because it sure won't be habitat. I think WDFW and the coastal tribes are being penny-wise and pound foolish about the coastal steelhead runs. Twenty years ago I would have argued that what we are seeing with PS steelhead couldn't happen in this rapid time frame. The coastal situation is not immune to fish population collapses either.

  2. Thanks Salmo! Well put as always.

    I understand the implications of C&R Mortality. I am very concerned that it is becoming a major issue on many destination Steelhead rivers now. I am not saying that tribes have no right to fish. My issue is the method they harvest which impacts and further degrades Wild Steelhead populations, then calling it Sustainable. The data clearly shows otherwise and it is not in good faith to sell these fish to the general public.

    Many can say that our take of wild Steelhead beginning next week can be considered Ceremonial and Subsistence, but the voters decided that we would not have a commercial Steelhead Fishery in Washington which is a good thing because many believe Steelhead cannot be harvested at a Commercial rate.

    WDFW has long taken and legally forced to take the MSY approach to managing Steelhead. Look where that has led us? 5 of 7 DPS in Washington are Listed under the ESA. Until Accountability is forced upon both WDFW and the Tribes regarding Wild Steelhead Mangement, the clock ticks until NOAA steps in with another ESA petition...
  3. No argument at all here. I'd say that the Quinault runs their fishery much like a pit boss runs a 21 table. A mark is a mark, and it's all profit.

    There are many competing values here, and the wild fish suffer.

    What I don't understand is why WDFW and their tribal partners all seem to be reactive at best, and woefully lacking when they do react. NOAA is part of this equation as well, yes?

    Over harvesting. Over estimating escapements. All very aggressive methods used to exploit the resource. Why?
  4. The management culture in our state seems to be one that views an "excess" of fish as a problem, not a goal to be obtained.
  5. SMC,

    Government does not lead; it follows. Took me quite a while to figure that out, but now I understand why gov't. agencies are reactionary rather than proactive. Could it be otherwise? I'm not sure. It's hard in a pluralistic and democratic system where more competing interests want to divy up resources than conserve or preserve them. Consider Evan's remark about excess fish being a problem, not a goal. Harvest management types skip several heart beats every time someone says something like that. It's a different culture, related I think to the same mindset types who insist we will never run out of old growth timber, never run out of oil, never run out of - - - you name it. I don't know why.

  6. The only thing we will never run out of is people that are willing to place blame on evereybody else. !
  7. while the sportfishing community does need to look at itself in the mirror. all this talk about how extra fish are considered a waste is amusing because outside of a small percentage of sportfishermen, that is what a lot of fishermen think too. why has c&r not been implemented? it's not the tribes, but us. go to any fisheries meeting and the vast majority of the public speaking doesn't give a rip about the fish, except what he/she will be able to keep.

    there is blame to be placed on the quinaults... especially on the queets. much of the mainstem habitat has been protected. yes, the clearwater, salmon (some on QIN), matheny creek, and sams river have been heavily logged but this river has some of the best remaining habitat in washington state and the sportfishery is managed by ONP as conservatively as any river in the state. the problems in the sportfishery and overharvest can be directly attributed to the tribe. they run the hatchery on the salmon river. they don't mark the fish. they overharvest the runs. they push for lower escapement levels. on the queets it is not "salmon without rivers" but "rivers without salmon".

    sometimes blame is well earned.
  8. From what I've observed, it appears the tribes, especially the Quinalts, would rather manage the rivers as anadramous fish farms rather than a wild fish habitat. If they could net every last wild fish, then just pump in a bunch of hatchery fish in their place, I don't doubt for one second they would jump at the opportunity.
  9. Guys and gals....here's my attempt at a form letter for restaurants.

    Please change, amend, hack up or take what you want. I wrote this less from the scientific standpoint, but from the emotional side. Hopefully it works for some of you.

    To: xxx

    To whom it may concern,

    I have recently learned of your choice to serve Wild Steelhead in your establishment. While that is your choice to do so, I hope you will consider quitting this practice

    It comes down to choice and the role your restaurant is willing to play in the preservation of this magnificent fish. Hatchery fish are one thing, Wild Steelhead are another.

    With a historic range from Alaska to Baja, Wild Steelhead face a future that is in serious peril. The fish you serve at your restaurant are coming from stocks, while not Endangered Species Act listed, are severely depressed. The fish you are serving come from one of the last bastions of these fish, The Olympic Peninsula. While it is Tribal right for the Native American Tribes to harvest these fish, you do not need to enhance the market by buying these fish.

    You are contributing to their ultimate decline.

    The scientific data speaks for itself. This letter can go on and on about the state of Steelhead. The diminished wild returns, the flooding of rivers with hatchery smolts, the perils of dams, so on and so on. If you want the data, it can be provided at in instant.

    More importantly, is it worth it? Do you want to continue to serve a fish that faces so much to survive? The economic gain you make by selling a plate of unsustainable resource is akin to selling roasted Bald Eagle.

    In an era of sustainability, groups like the Native Fish Society, The Wild Steelhead Coalition and thousands of sportsmen and women around the country stand arm and arm in urging you to take Wild Steelhead off your menu.

    Until this is done, we will not visit your establishment and we will advocate others to not do so as well. Be on the leading edge of this movement like other restaurants and fish purveyors like Rays Boathouse and The Pikes Street Fish Market of Seattle buy taking Wild Steelhead off the menu. It’s the right thing to do.

    Hopefully, you will find it the right decision to do so as well.

    Thank you,

  10. JMIlls -
    Probably should keep in mind that "wild" means something different to those in the restaurant trade that it does you and me.

    I would think this is an opportunity to advance steelhead management on the coast, particularly with the Quinaults. Why not stress that wild caught hatchery origin steelhead are wonderful table fare and request that restaurants that wish to serve wild caught steelhead on their men do so only with known hatchery fish - that is adiposed fin clip or otherwise marked. Ask the restaurants to request from the Quinaults (or other tirbes) to supply steelhead that readily identified as hatchery fish. Who knows maybe through economic pressure from the tribe's customers you can aaccomplish through the back door what the non-tribal managers have not been able to do through the front door.

    Tight lines
  11. The problem with this that I see is that the tribes are already trying to do this... By ONLY having hatchery fish in the river. The Quinalts don't distinguish between hatchery and wild, they don't clip their fish at all. On top of that, supporting hatcheries is part of the problem on the coast, not a solution.

  12. So if there eventually becomes a market just for hatchery fish, then what happens to the wild fish caught in the gillnets? Do they then catch more wild fish as by-catch as they increase netting to fulfill the demand for 'hatchery' fish? This is all hypothetical as they don't clip.
  13. Bump

    Did anybody succeed in getting letters/calls off to them?
  14. Thanks Evan, you are in the diplomatic stage of your steel head protection approach, something I burned out on in the fight for Riparian zones, culvert replacement and Catch and release. If I can support your attempts please ask, my motives are usually misconstrued by me being a fishing guide and my less than soft approach to pointing out the reality of the situation. Someday if you need a no pussyfooting jack-ass to step up, I'm your huckleberry!
  15. Haha.. well, we need all types. I'm not picky at this point. I just think we need numbers. Just me being a whiney bitch all the time isn't going to accomplish much if hundreds more don't join me and persist. To me, the most frustrating part of this isn't the lack of progress I make, it's the lack of anyone else wanting to help. So anything is appreciated.
  16. Very interesting thread, however, I don't know much about the "science" involved in fisheries management. But obviously,this is not a "science" problem, but a political one. Just look at the past history of the current and past administrations supporting tribal gambling without any corresponding mitigation payments, making it a felony for online gambling, abandoning state parks to tribal management, allowing the tribes to collect gas taxes with no accountability for use of funds on transportation projects, etc. It's all about money and political payback. As much as I enjoy spey casting and fishing for salmon and steelhead, I think that you have to see the writing on the wall. Both the WDFG and the other federal agencies have no real say in managing the resource for OUR benefit or to use actual scientific principles in that role. They are hamstrung by all the special interests and subservient to the politicians, both state and federal and there is just too much money in campaign contributions from tribal interests for the sportsmen to ever get a fair shake - not matter how organized they become or how much license fees contribute to the general fund. I used to live within the Suquamish "reservation" and have seen the results of tribal political influence (not all bad I might add, but not generally for the benefit of the general public). You can only beat your head against the wall so much. I think the future is in fishing for Dorado, a fast growing, non endangered species that you can catch in warm weather. Only issue is not whether the tribes, but the drug cartels take over the fishery ( and the more I think about it, I guess all of the above - Cartels, tribes, state are involved in selling sin). Sorry if I offended anyone, but just my two cents. More than willing to help in lobbying, but I have seen how effective (not) that is first hand. Good luck in papering your representatives.

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