Yet another set of assaults on the WDFW Commission

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Citori, Feb 5, 2011.

  1. Jim Kerr

    Jim Kerr Active Member

    I am on the commissions team, because unlike some big wigs at the department they mostly return my calls and seem to at least want something more than to protect there own pensions. I am calling and writing to protect the commission, I would also like to know who sponsored the bill.
    I will urge my friends to call and support the commission.
  2. Go Fish

    Go Fish Language, its a virus


    Would you support a net ban?


    Thanks for asking the
    same question as I.
  3. cabezon

    cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

    Ed, who has the authority to force the sovereign tribes to not use a cheap, effective (too effective) method to catch the half of the harvestable fish that they are an entitled to by a treaty with the federal government? At least in the PS and OP rivers, the non-tribal commercial catch of wild steelhead is trivial. [On the Columbia, the springer gill net fishery by non-tribal commercial fishers does impact wild steelhead.]

  4. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

    Jim, thanks for serving. I found some archives of meetings and teleconfereces that I'm going to read through.

    Dave, I'm not very up on commercial fisheries within the sound. I realize that inshore or inland netting would alter the tribal harvest methodology, perhaps some alternative methods could be employed that would cull out the wild fish for safe passage. There was some interesting video posted a while back with who I think were the Colville Tribe using netting practices that allowed them to release wild fish and retain the hatchery fish. With some creative minds working together it seems that motivated co-managers that realized less pressure on the threatened wild stocks would be a very good thing.
  5. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

    Steve, good point and I realize that there would have to be Federal involvement. Would this not seem to rise to the level of importance such that some federal intervention might be worthy? I'm not the brightest bulb, but there has to be some method of harvest that could be employed or devised that would minimize the killing of wild fish.

    I'd like to think that the tribes would not need to be forced. If the methods are more expensive, why not have the government subsidize as needed. The federal government has paid farming communities not to farm, commercial fishermen not to fish. Stranger things have happened and maybe threatened or endangered could be replaced by strengthening or recovering. Am I too much of an optimist in thinking such a plan and methods could be devised and implemented?
  6. gt

    gt Active Member

    cabezon, from the article:

    '...Courts have consistently ruled tribes are not subject to state or federal jurisdiction, he said...'

    the 'he' in this case is an attorney from the state AGs office. supreme court, a few lines above that statement may have a different take on the issue.

    as in most legal challenges, its the 'context' that is very important. so while we have the tribes taking the state to federal court ala boldt, the AGs office is saying the state can't take the tribes to the same federal court, hummmm. so can the tribes be sued? that will be the interesting part of this action. i suspect the AGs office is the very reason we have not seen any legal challenges to various fish related issues and probably the muzzle that was slapped on WDFW. stay tuned, this is could be a very important legal action.

    always hard to predict i8abug but if the federal action against the makah is any indication, i am afraid you may be correct. perhaps the difference here is non-tribal businesses loosing $$ as opposed to a political appointee deciding not to do work that might be to hard :), status quo is always the easy way out.
  7. cabezon

    cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

    Hi Ed,
    How would you feel if some outsider tried to dictate how you ran your business? What if they insisted on changes that would make your job harder, but did not appear to improve your bottom line [at least in the short run, and most Americans are lucky if they can plan three months in the future. Also, see Tragedy of the Commons - If I release this fish today, what assurance do I have that I will reap the benefits of this action in the future.]

    Also, by the Boldt decision, the tribes are entitled to half the harvestable fish. If fly fishers C&R 1000 wild steelhead (or the same 100 steelhead 10 times), the assumption is that a percentage of those fish, say 5% or 50 fish, would die from handling. A tribe with treaty rights to that river could make the argument that they should harvest 50 wild fish by whatever means they prefer.

    An added fly in the ointment is the concept of foregone opportunity. If a stock (e.g., steelhead in a river system) has a harvestable number of fish but one group (say sportfishers) decides not to harvest their share, the other group (for example, a tribe) may harvest the first group's share too without impacting any other harvest opportunities in that year or future years. The idea is to prevent "wastage" by allowing more fish to reach the spawning gravel than the river system can support. Now a sticky point comes when the tribal and WDFW biologists come together to determine what the harvestable number of fishes are in a particular year. They often disagree and fish according to their own set numbers.

    Welcome to the world of fisheries law.....
  8. Go Fish

    Go Fish Language, its a virus

    The Tribes
    would not even
    consider it.....

    because they don't have to.

    Nuff said
  9. Go Fish

    Go Fish Language, its a virus


    Half of nothing is.......

    you do the math.
  10. smc

    smc Active Member

    I like the way you think Ed, basically because I like optimism. But, your plan ignores the impact that non-tribal commercials have on the fishery, and the fact that the tribes and commercial operators are competitors in the market. My point is that the Tribes would likely not accept a competitive disadvantage.

    What if all commercials, tribal and non-tribal alike, were restricted to methods that would minimize the killing of wild fish? Perhaps a federal subsidy to ease the transition, with a move to the fish being priced at their true market value.

    Or, what if all commercials, tribal and non-tribal, were given the opportunity to participate in a program that subsidized their efforts to "safely" harvest fish? These "safe" fish, with the right marketing, could likely command a premium price in the market, perhaps encouraging others to participate.

    Oh, and I certainly do support the commission as it sits now. It should not be politicized any more than it already is.
  11. cabezon

    cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

    Fishers are an insanely optimistic lot. I'm sure the guy who shot the last passenger pigeon or Carolina parakeet or bludgeoned the last Steller's sea cow figured that there were still more out there. Ask any steelheader you happen to see about unfounded optimism.....

    What if the tribal fishers are just as happy with hatchery fish as they are with wild fish (same value at the fish wholesaler)? In fact, they may see the hatchery reform activities (fewer hatchery fish to reduce impacts on wild fish) to be against their best interests. We may have a conflict in values between two different communities. You see this on the Cowlitz with one group demanding that the river be turned into a huge hatchery steelhead wonderland and other groups fighting for the restoration of wild Cowlitz river fish (a phrase that can lead to a thread reaching epic proportion on some gear fishing sites).

  12. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

    Steve, very well put, and as I've said this is likely way more complex than I can grasp. Again, I don't think that responsible tribal members would consider alternatives as a bad thing if they truly are interested in the fishing. As co-managers I have been impressed with discussions I've had with a few. I don't think they need to be dictated to, rather I think that they need to merely be encouraged to consider alternatives. Tribes have wonderful histories, during which they have evolved things here or there. I don't wish the tribes, commercial fishermen or recreational anglers any bad times. What we have right now are bad times across the board. Failure to change harvest methods and rates will successfully put the fish out of the ecosystem.

    Effective point on to release now does not give any assertion that any benefit will come later. Isn't somewhat the inverse also true? Not releasing now, continuing as all are currently are, seals the fate of no benefit later. We'll then be moving from steelhead to some other species, whitefish perhaps?

    Fisheries law, complicated stuff indeed. Thanks for understading your in a battle of wits with the unarmed. I have no idea if there is a right answer, or a combo of right answers. I'm pretty sure that my normal realism sees that without change then end is in sight. No one wants to give an inch, or a fish. Recreational fishermen want rivers open for harvest and/or catch and release. Tribes will harvest their share, and as you say, the rest of the unharvested fish from the recreational side if available. What is the best answer to stop the slide, or are we all just going to continue to repeat the same action and expect a different result? (Isn't that the definition of insanity?) Thanks. Ed
  13. smc

    smc Active Member

    All too true. But what if the Wild Steelhead had -0- value at wholesale, because it was not legal?
  14. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

    If the Tribal fishers are as happy with a hatchery fish as a wild fish there should be immediate change. The Tribal fishers would honor the history of the native steelhead and ensure that the hatchery fish are all fin clipped, 100% from every hatchery. This would allow them to properly differentiate the wild fish from the hatchery brats so that the history of these fine fish can be preserved like their own fine Tribal history. This would cause me to think that more effort to find sustainable harvest manners that would minimize impact on the wild fish population. As such the Tribes taking this hatchery fish only approach across all their Soverign Nations would then force the hand of WDFW and immediately end the retention of any wild steelhead on those Pacific coastal rivers. I think that would be a good thing.
  15. Go Fish

    Go Fish Language, its a virus


    You rolled it up
    in something
    that made

  16. cabezon

    cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

    Earlier in this thread I proposed a thought that the tribes might be willing to sell access to some of their share of harvestable fish if the price were right. Frankly, a sportsfisher will pay way more to release a wild steelhead than the same steelhead could return at the wholesale level. Or the tribal members could serve as fishing guides, as they do on the Quinault. As I am not a tribal member nor have had much contact with them (Ivory tower proposal if I've ever developed one), I have no idea how they might view this proposal, especially in light of the historical emnity between the groups. And there is more than straight economics at play. After all, the real economic cost of the fish that we occasionally harvest with our expensive graphite wands is far higher than what it would cost to purchase those fish commercially. Fishing, whether recreational or commercial, gets in your blood and becomes part of how you define yourself - priceless.

    Often hard, life-changing decisions are not made until groups are at the very edge (or over) the precipice and everyone sees that there is no choice for anyone.

    This discussion has helped clarify a few things in my own mind - thanks to all for participating.

  17. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

    SMC, thanks. Simple mind thinking is all. As for commercial steelhead bycatch, like in open waters? Is that what you mean? I have heard from a friend here that has some commercial fishery experience that steelhead bycatch out in open water is pretty low. Personally I don't know, but I trust that his experience and expertise on the matter is credible.

    Cabezon, I belive that there is a place for hatcheries. That place is on the rivers that man has already failed to prevent himself from killing all the fish. There are rivers that have no wild steelhead runs, aren't there? Put the hatchery fish there. Put the table meat harvesting anglers there and their fishing pressure. Stop pumping hatchery fish, Federal, Tribal, State or Private, into systems that have wild runs and let those runs attempt to recover. I'm sure there are a few rivers that can be named that have no known surviving wild steelhead. Use them for the meat market.
  18. cabezon

    cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

    Interesting thought. Who would make it illegal to sell wild steelhead? I doubt if the state would have the authority; I expect that the ability of the tribes to market their catch is protected under the guise of the treaty (more of a feeling than a firm legal opinion...). I guess that the feds could prohibit their sale (as with regulating whale harvests by the Makah tribe), but imagine the lobbying effort (and TV commercials sponsored by the tribes) with the rich, pampered, Orvis-wearing (sorry, Leland), SUV driving Anglos taking economic opportunities from poor tribal fishers so that the Anglos can play with the fish (PETA would love this fight too).

  19. cabezon

    cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

    [/QUOTE]Cabezon, I belive that there is a place for hatcheries. That place is on the rivers that man has already failed to prevent himself from killing all the fish. There are rivers that have no wild steelhead runs, aren't there? Put the hatchery fish there. Put the table meat harvesting anglers there and their fishing pressure. Stop pumping hatchery fish, Federal, Tribal, State or Private, into systems that have wild runs and let those runs attempt to recover. I'm sure there are a few rivers that can be named that have no known surviving wild steelhead. Use them for the meat market.[/QUOTE]

    If you have been following the "Extinction of the Skagit steelhead" thread, you can make a defensible argument that any river that has had steelhead in it, and still has native rainbow trout in it, still has the genesis of a wild steelhead population. And the genetic studies that have been done show that even those rivers with long histories of extensive hatchery stocking still retain a core of wild fish genes. That is sufficient to allow conservation groups to put pressure under the Endangered Species Act to mandate restoration of wild fish runs. This is part of the battle that has been fought in the last decade on the Cowlitz River regarding recycling hatchery fish back downstream. The only way to have a river without wild steelhead is to build your own and stock it. Mt. St. Helens tried to boil off the Toutle and still the fish came back.

  20. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

    Great point with the myriad of different life histories of the rainbow some or all could choose to go eat some squid and shrimp. The "Extinction of Skagit Steelhead" thread by WW is one that disturbs me. I don't fish the Skagit, it is not close to me and it is massive and as such seems so impossible to learn to fish. Such a vast river and vast region that it drains. It is a shame that it is not as mighty in wild fish runs as it is mighty during flood stage. Thanks for the interesting points.