What happend to the steelhead in Washington?

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by IHV2FSH, Mar 19, 2011.

  1. scottpuck, the article you posted is interesting but it doesn't point to any real long term habitat improvement, and even states that current water temps are too warm. nobody is dismissing the work of volunteers helping to restore habitat, but habitat work alone right now is not the entire answer.

    hatcheries play a role in wild fish declines, but directly and indirectly through harvest pressure and land use decisions (hatcheries in lieu).

    you make it out like those opposed to hatcheries are only focused on that one specific issue. it may be the case for some, but all of the wild fish advocates i've met feel just as strongly about mixed stock fisheries, dams, and habitat. habitat is critical for long term survival, but we have to take steps to make sure the remaining wild fish are as productive and abundant as possible as we wait for habitat to improve (if it actually does).

    as for more pressure coming to coastal rivers... i like that one of your examples is probably one of the best case studies on the problems with hatchery production on a system with lots of good habitat. the other example is a river that consistently misses escapement while being pimped out relentlessly.... she's one tired hoh.
  2. a couple of miles from my front door is the dungeness r. a group called 'the river keepers' are very active in restoration work including placing woody debris where they can. but this very steep gradient river contains very few steelhead. according to WDFW, steelhead stocking has ceased because of the chinook ESA listing. apparently there are concerns regarding smolt competition which i don't understand. at any rate, the steelhead hatchery no longer releases smolt. so why are wild steelhead not repopulating this clean flowing uninterupted river? i doubt its 'ocean conditions' and has more to do with the destruction of the original wild population of fish with irrigation draw down during the summer months coupled with hatchery fish competiting for available space and food, but in fact, i am clueless.

    so has this river system reached the point of no return? too few remaining native wild steelhead to stand a chance against all other odds to return home and spawn? i suspect this is the case and so a beautiful free flowing river no longer has sustainable numbers of wild steelhead, functionally extinct. how many other river systems before someone calls WDFW on their mismanagement of our publically owned resources?
  3. Who turned them from substinance traders to profit based fishing?
    Who is purchasing the fish they catch and therefor providing a open market?
    Was it an native american judge who decided on there current fishing privileges?
  4. and your three points are well taken but now what?

    - sit back and ignore bank to bank net sets on all of the OP rivers?
    - sit back while WDFW continues to promote MSY for the benefit of the above?
    - do nothing as the fish go extinct?

    i don't see your pointing out the obvious as having much impact on the future of our wild anadramous fish.
  5. the dungeness is an interesting case study, but the state is still planting it with hatchery winter-runs... this past winter they only released 3,700 smolts after past years of releasing between 10-14,000 smolts (these small numbers make you wonder "what's the point). of course, the dungeness is hammered habitat wise in the lower river. Not only massive water withdrawals in an area that receives next to no rain, but during the past couple decades sequim has seen massive development along the lower dungeness and it's watershed which only adds pressure to the watershed.
  6. you bet topwater, the army corp of engineers has done a fine job of ditchitizing the dungy along with developers who simply bulldozed the best coho spawing area on the entire river. what did the county do? i am sure i don't even have to call that out. there is, however, a movement afoot to move the dikes on the lower river to allow the meander to re-establish itself. property has been purchased, the corp has been out doing their slow motion survey, so who knows, maybe the last mile or so will see some improvement along with the estuary.

    i had no idea they were still releasing steelhead smolts. i wonder which hatchery they are importing these zombies from as hurd creek is shut down.
  7. I don't know if anyone else has seen the S river estuaries but, I personally can't believe any fish live in any of them. The fact that steelhead and salmon (let alone whales and stuff) are in puget sound at all is just amazing.

    Also could it be that hatcheries started clipping fins thus people notice the lack of wild fish now more then they did in the "good old days" (like the 80s maybe?)
  8. It is too bad that this statement keeps getting thrown out there in such a manner as to make it appear that WDFW is at fault here for this policy. It has been mentioned and linked to on this forum many times as to the true origin of this policy.

    In short, WDFW is MANDATED by the Legislature of the State of Washinton to manage the fisheries for the commercial interests. Essentially, it is against the law for them to do otherwise. Get your lawyers, lobbyists, and your monies and go after that...

    On another note, I went to the directors meeting in Sedro Woolley last night. I salute the WDFW for having the balls to show up here where there isn't a river open to fishing for maybe a hundreds miles in any direction. It's just a shame they had to put up with so much ignorance from the locals. I left after hearing this question from one concerned citizen; "I want to know what the WDFW's plans are for selective gill netting?"
  9. I thought there would be a better showing of some intelligence at the WDFW meeting in Sedro. Like WW I was surprised so many people that profess to have a love of fishing are so ignorant of the situation regarding fish. I was impressed by the patience displayed by WDFW officials when dealing with the ignorance and misplaced anger directed at them.

    The meeting consisted of WDFW crying about the lack of money and the public blaming them and commercial (tribal) fishing for the decline in steelhead. I heard little from either side about the true causes of steelhead decline and almost nothing regarding what could be done.
  10. i'd be interested in reading this 'legal' mandate, got a link??
  11. That Fish Manager gal and Phil both mentioned how the outmigrating fish aren't making it from the mouth of the Skagit to Neah Bay. That went right over everyone's head and didn't even slow down the net whining.
    And hows about that one dude that wanted to open up a "private hatchery' :rofl:
    The State spent $57.5 million in two years and they can't get any fish back to the Skagit...hope that sumbitch has deep pockets...
  12. Clicky

    And here it is with the sentence in question in bold by me.

  13. I was always under the impression that most of Skagit's steelhead made a right turn when leaving the river and move north thru the Strait of Georgia. Perhaps that is why they don't see very many make it to Neah Bay. Still it has nothing to do with nets.

    Only one person came up with a net argument that I thought held water. The fact that nets select the largest fish thus preventing the larger, stronger fish from spawning and encourging smaller, less capable fish to carry on the species.
  14. WW, that statement DOES NOT mandate MSY, go read it again. the 'economic well-being and stability' can also be read as MANAGE THE fishery to insure we have fish!!!! that also could mean abolishing gill nets, purse seines, closing sport seasons.......all of which would meet the stated objective of 'maintain(ing) the economic well-being and stability of the fishing industry in the state'!!!!

    now, it is the case that the commission has chosen MSY as the only means of meeting this objective, but it is certainly not the only means available to them. this is the same commission that so many of you railed on about saving from the scrap heap. so those who wanted to save this group of industry representatives, now would be a great time to start beating your status quo drums to get something done for the 'well-being and stability' of fishing in this state.
  15. Legal language is tricky.

    Only an attempt is mandated here...no requirement to be successfull.
    They put some extra fish in some lakes and they have satisfied the first part of that mandate. Now they can devote the rest of their efforts at the second part of that mandate.

    He with the loudest Lobby - Wins! Ain't America great!
  16. yes, the whole thing turns on the word 'industry'. so consider:

    - puget sound anglers; waters west; cabala's....
    - sage; g loomis; burkheimier...
    - every saltwater licensed fishing guide and charter services...
    - every saltwater port that charges a launch fee...
    - van rippers, olsens, big salmon and every other small town dependent on sport angling

    you see, 'industry' is a very interesting word and one that more than likely has a pretty broad legal interpretation. simply because the bought and paid for commission interprets that word as MSY does NOT mean they have the correct interpretation or a legal mandate.

    so here is another opportunity for the state level 'conservation' groups that lobbied to retain WDFW, as is, to step forward and mount a challenge to MSY. do you suppose anything will happen from these 'conservation' groups???? we can hope so but i ain't a holdin' my breath.

    and as ray troll so aptly put in on one of his art pieces: 'No fish - No fishermen'
  17. I can guarentee one thing that these conservation groups will continue to do. They'll continue to collect donations and membership dues.
  18. gt -
    Regading WW's point about the legislative mandate here is just one example (I no longer have much patience to keep plowng the same ground over and over).

    RCW -77.50.120

    "Maintaining consistent salmon harvest levels.

    It is the intent of the legislature to ensure that a sustainable level of salmon is made available for harvest for commercial fishers in the state. Maintaining consistent harvest levels has become increasingly difficult with the listing of salmonid species under the federal endangered species act. Without a stable level of harvest, fishers cannot develop niche markets that maximize the economic value of the harvest. New tools and approaches are needed by fish managers to bring increased stability to the fishing industry.

    In the short term, it is the legislature's intent to provide managers with tools to assure that commercial harvest of targeted stocks can continue and expand under the constraints of the federal endangered species act. There are experimental types of commercial fishing gear that could allow fishers to stabilize harvest levels by selectively targeting healthy salmon stocks.

    For the longer term, the department of fish and wildlife shall proceed with changes to the operation of certain hatcheries in order to stabilize harvest levels by allowing naturally spawning and hatchery origin fish to be managed as a single run. Scientific information from such hatcheries would guide the department's approach to reducing the need to mass mark hatchery origin salmon where appropriate."

    It is that kind of thinking coming from the State's citzens via our elected officials that is reflected in the Co-manager's Puget Sound management plan with MSY management (reflecting tribal and State mandates). Unfortuantely for those fishing for wild steelhead as part of the Federal court and advisory decisions in the Boldt Case area steelhead are considered to be part of the PS Salmon Management plan - ergo in regard to steelhead MSY management in the Case are WDFW is under a Federal Court directive. The good news is the co-manager do have the latitude to argee to other standards. An example would be the Skagit where the co-managers have agreed to an escapement goal that is 150% of the best estimates of MSY levels (based on conditions from the late 1970s to early 1990).

    In spite of all the above MSY management has had very little to do with the current state of Steelhead in Puget Sound. Current escapement goals for nearly all the PS basins for the last 10 to 25 years have been above MSY levels (and usually carrying capacity levels). A common problem in this kinds of discussions is folks refusal to come to gripes that like our steelhead populations and their abundance population parameter suchs as carry capacity and MSY escapement levels are very dynamic typically reflecting the combined effect of freshwater and marine water survival conditions.

    Focusing on MSY management like over harvest and hatchery wild interactions do little more than divert attention from the big picture and an understanding of what is occuring with our steelhead populations and the key drivers in determining their status. Without that understanding there is little potential of taking meaningful actions to benefit those steelhead.

    Tight lines
  19. yes sir're, i am tired of plowing the same old field as well. it comes down to the HOW question. overharvest based on inflated return estimates is hardly a methodology to 'maintain stable levels' of harvestable fish. what we have here is WDFW interpreting words which quite likely have a long history of litigation and therefore definition. i am certain that if acturate data were available and presented to the legislature, a totally different scenario would arise.

    one simplist idea is to go backward in time and compare the return forecasts with the actual observed returns. how far off the mark were the estimates? 20%,30%,40%,...70%,80% ?????? what become quickly apparent is the projection for returning fishe are over stated each and every year resulting in quotas which are far too generous. now just why do you suppose that happens??

    MSY is only a piece of this puzzle and it is decimating the OP wild steelhead stocks while the apologists complain about plowing.

    as has already been pointed out by several posters, some habitat rehalibitation combined with the elimination of zombie stockings HAS had a positive impact on the return of wild steelhead. i believe the majority of folks who read these discussions can see the connection and the logic for this sort of management move on the part of WDFW. but, MSY, the thing you would rather ignore, dominates the picture and drives all decisions. we have it in writing from the commission chairperson, co-signed by Phil himself, that MSY is THE objective of WDFW.

    a challenge to these 'interpretations' would more than likely result in a different outcome in a federal court of law. but, as i said, the state level 'conservation' groups don't appear to be interested in conserving much of anything.
  20. This.

    If you talk to the biologists that work for USFS that are tracking the redds in the upper Salmon River drainage of ID, they will tell you that real recovery is not happening... redd counts of wild and native steelhead and spring chinook salmon continue to slip, in spite of the qrotesque amout of BPA funded supplimentation.

    (In the Snake River Basin) We need to manage our rivers/hydro system in ways that value NATIVE, genetically unique (and ancient) salmon/steelhead stocks.

    By the way, we are in a cycle of good ocean conditions... those are due to end soon and shift to something like we saw in the 90s... When that happens, we will again see that these socks are incredibly vunerable to the degraded river habitats/hatchery programs.

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