Yet another set of assaults on the WDFW Commission


Active Member
the only legal action i can recall from WDFW was aimed at removing the gill nets from the terminal fishery. unfortunately, at statehood, laws were passed which banned weirs, wheels and traps from terminal fisheries. so the court simply threw this suite on the trash heap as a blatant attempt to shut down a single commercial segment, tribal harvest. now that was a rather stupid way to approach a real problem but its how it came down. a smarter approach would have been to have the ban on weirs, wheels and traps in terminal tribal fisheries overturned giving the tribe a means of selective harvest while preserving their 50%.

are there other attempts by WDFW? perhaps someone else knows of others from the past.

in today's situation, to enforce the ESA listing on puget sound chinook, WDFW would have to close all harvest, period. they could not succeed in selectively targetting one harvesting group while ignoring another. that would totally disrupt the status quo the sport angler has become accustomed too. are you ready to see harvest closed to everyone? would you personally be willing to stop? that is the sort of action which WDFW is currently empowered to take and for me, having had a 2 decade hiatiaus from salmon harvest, i would be more than willing to hang up the gear all over again.

think about it........................


Active Member

Despite what you just posted about WDFW having authoriy over the tribes withing the US v. WA (i.e. Bolt descision), it is patently false and inaccurate on its face. Bolt said that WA State (i.e. WDFW) and the Treaty Fishing Tribes are co-managers. One of them doesn't have authority over the other. They are equal to each other and that is why each gets to decide what to do with its harvestable fish. WDFW can shut down fishing, set limits on the number and type of fish that can be killed, and limit the types of gear for its half of the equation (i.e. the sport and commercial fishermen), and the Treaty fishing Tribes can shut down fishing, set limits on the number of fish that can be killed, and limit the types of gear that are used by the fishermen of that particular tribe. One side cannot set limits on the other side.

The suit you claimed was tossed in the trash heap by the court had nothing in its descision that mentioned WA State banning fish sheels, traps, weirs, etc. Pluse Bolt gave the tribes (it was affirmed by the Supreme Court) the right to regulate its own fsiheries as they see fit. This included but was not limited to the type of fear used to fish. In other words, if a tribe wishes to use a fish wheel or trap, WA State can do nothing about it, just like WA State can do nothing about the treaty fishing tribes allowing gill nets in the rivers.

The arguments you have postulated and offered as proof that WDFW can regulate the trbes' methods and harvest have been used by WA State to now avail in its appeals. It seems that it would help you to avail yourself of the appellate court and Supreme Court descisions on them. The State lost on each and every one of them.

As I've posted before multiple times, Congress can change the Point Elliot Treaty to remove the right of the tribes to fish as they wish; NOAA-F can say nobody, including the tribes, can fish for salmon or steelhead by any means whatsoever; EPA can say the salmon or steelhead in a particular river system cannot tolerate harvest of any sort and shut down the fishing on that river system for all users; WDFW can shut down sport and commercial fishing; a tribe can shut down fishing for its members on the river it has treaty fishing rights to; and NOAA-F can tell WA State to quit stocking fish in a river and as a result tell both the tribes and WDFW to quit allowing fishing in that river.

US v. WA was decided over 30 years ago. I think it is long past the time that we realize that the treaty fishing tribes have a right to fish and that they are co-managers with WDFW of the resource.

I suggest you go back and read the complete US v. WA (Bolt) descision for you don't appear to have an understanding of what co-managers means.


Sen. Ranker, who happens to be my Senator, has family in the commercial fishing business and he (and they) are not happy with how WDFW pays attention to the concerns of sportsfishermen. That is why he would like to see control of WDFW given to the governor. The commercials have not been happy with WDFW as it was set up by a vote of the people, they want to return to a commission and director appointed by the governor and approved by the Senate because they rightfully see that as the way to get more of the harvetable fish for commercial fishermen.

Me, I don't want our system changed for exactly the reasons Salmo-g laid out.
One day out fishing I ran into a fish biologist and talked for about an hour about this very subject, sort of.

They (the biologists) had been working on ways to increase the returns of the native fish in this particular river. As it turns out, NOAA was not happy with the results (even though the numbers were up) and shut their program down, the entire program. That river now will be absent of returning fish after next year, except for the true wild fish. I had no idea NOAA had that kind of power. All I know is that there are going to be some very disappointed fisherman come 2013.

It has not been made public yet, but it will be soon I was told. I wonder how many other rivers face tis same fate?


Sculpin Enterprises
Ah, GT, WFF's very own Don Quixote. Where are the Sancho Panzas' who will follow GT? His is a voice alone in the wilderness. Why aren't CCA or the Wild Steelhead Coalition or Trout Unlimited willing to support his unique interpretation of the law? Don't they recognize his brilliance? If one is to believe GT, a lawsuit brought against WDFW to enforce their responsibilities should be a slam dunk? Why does he dance alone? Where is the video footage of the abuses of the tribes that he was promoting? Where are the signatures on his initiative to forbid gill nets?

Onto serious issues, I see the move by the governor against the WDFW Commission as part of a wide-spread power play by the governor to consolidate all decision-making under her office under the guise of the current financial crisis. The attempt by the governor to cut Randy Dorn, the duly elected Superintendent of Public Instruction (whatever you think of the actions of this current inhabitant of the office), from control of K-12 education is a similar action. While I agree that the Commission has been too slow to recognize threats to endangered fish populations (and too slow to challenge some of the pro-harvest WDFW district heads), they appear to be finally understanding the scope of the problem.



Fly Fishing guide "The Bogy House" Lodge
The people on that commission are the ones that keep the dept. from self imploding with buracracy red tape, they are the link between anglers and a government entity that is out of touch within itself.


Geriatric Skagit Swinger
#22 I sit here surrounded by closed rivers, I seem to have lots of time on my hands.
Wonder what I should do...:)


Active Member
FT, you seem to take the position that 'the law' is cut and dried, black and white, good vs evil, oh how nieve. not a problem from my perspective but what it does do is lead to sitting on your hands and no action to protect and preserve wild anadramous fish. the infamous status quo is your master and as a result no action will be forthcoming.

CCA has taken zero action in this state save writing letters and their attempts in oregon have run into the same dilema regarding nets as was the case here in washington. they are mired down in a pile of manure of their own origin so don't expect them to step up to the plate for our wild anadramous fishes. BTW, the co-managers have little difficulty filing law suites to get what they want but the state will not move against them, status quo. remember the illegal killing of the whale? arrested by the USCG handed over to FEDERAL authorities, kicked back to the tribe who fined the perps $20 and told'um not to do it again.

taking on the tribes is a serious business but we are at a serious cross roads with over harvest of the last remaining wild anadramous fish, see the thread above about nets taking ESA wild steelhead. now according to your posture and that of CCA and the rest, we will just sit here until extinction is confirmed and they we will all ring our hands together.

so cabezon, don't like my rocking the status quo boat? well them post some solutoins that we can all get behind, or just join the ranks of the rest of the bugger flickers here on this BB.


Sculpin Enterprises
I have already suggested possible solutions in past threads. We have to negotiate with individual tribes to induce them to modify their activities. There is no such entity as "the tribes"; each is a sovereign nation and jealously protect their rights against other tribes and outsiders. This was evidenced a few years ago when Makah trollers hammered the tribal share of chinook and other tribes had to cut their harvest.

The tribes fish for the cash the fish bring in and for the cultural / religious connections with their past. [And don't bring in the argument that the tribes are swimming in cash. Even if some are, this is irrelevant. How would you respond if I said that your salary was so generous that the income on your investments should be given to someone else?] To encourage individual tribes to modify their activities, we can use a stick (and the tribes know that we have a very puny stick) or economic carrots.

Similar modifications in fishing activity have been successful elsewhere. Twenty plus years ago in Atlantic Canada, the government bought out the licenses of the commercial fishers for Atlantic salmon and required that anyone from out of province who wished to fish for Atlantic salmon have a guide. The government's argument was that commercially-caught Atlantic salmon were worth $3.00 / lb, while the total value of a sports-fishing caught Atlantic salmon was $300 / lb. (guide fees, tackle, food, lodging, gas and most of the fish were released anyway). As a result, there is more economic activity and the Atlantic salmon populations have been slowly increasing.

Can we create a situation where a tribe catches what it needs for ceremonial activities and then sells the rights to their remaining half to guides or other individuals who paid a fee to fish on those rivers for the tribal share? Imagine if the Hoh River, to pick an example, were limited entry several days per week and only those who paid a fee (to be paid to the Hoh tribe or whichever tribe held those fishing rights) were allowed on the river. How much would you be willing to pay for a day on a pristine river at the height on the wild steelhead season and you knew that the number of other fishers was extremely restricted (think B.C. fishing without the borders and less travel)? The Hoh tribe could either simply collect the fee or have tribal members act as guides. The fishers could either keep the fish (hopefully rare for natives, required for hatchery fish) or release the fish (preferred option). The tribe would have extracted an enhanced economic value for the fish, and the numbers of wild fish would increase to the carrying capacity of the river system.



Sculpin Enterprises
No, I have a full-time job that keeps me far busier than is good for my health, mental and physical. To implement this plan will require buy-in by individual tribes, WDFW, guides, and the general fishing public. In the past, I have suggested approaching Congressman Norm Dicks, as these rivers are in his congressional district and he is very interested in fishery issues. He (or his office) could act as the fair-broker to find areas of common interests and to bridge gaps / form creative solutions around difficulties. This needs to be accomplished incrementally, river by river, tribe by tribe. And it will require cooperation and trust. In my more pessimistic moments, I don't see this happening until the fishes are at the brink (some would argue that we are already there).

The tribes fish for the cash the fish bring in and for the cultural / religious connections with their past.
That is the biggest misconception out there. I work for a tribe, I get all the salmon, steelhead I want. They bring their catches to work and give thousands upon thousands away, and that's just where I work. How many other places are the doing this? - A BUNCH!!! They drive trucks all around "speading the wealth". What they don't give away, they throw away. They sell them on the side of the street for cash, what they don't sell, they throw away - cause as they do this the nets are full again.

You call that getting in touch with their cultural past? I call it @#!*% !

I have a few native friends that I go toe-to-toe with on this subject, telling them that it's @#!*% . Know what they say? They don't say a thing, they just laugh at me. I'm still their friend, and they are mine. But can you blame them for abusing a system that we enable them to do so?

I also have native friends from the same tribe, and two others from two different tribes, that think it's @#!*% too. A few bad apples don't spoil the entire bunch. Any demographic of people, if given the chance to abuse any system, will do so. It's a "grab what you can" mentality out there.

Plain and simple: The netting has to change. There needs to be a limit on what they can catch. I don't care if it's in the thousands, as long as "unsold" fish aren't just thrown away. And here's a novel idea: You can't catch fish for other tribes and truck them clear across the state. Last time I checked a history book, there weren't any freezer trucks taking fish to other natives that lived hundreds of miles away.

P.S. No I will not mention which tribe this is. Why? Because without me defending my stance and whom I've talked to, it's neither fair to them or me.


Sculpin Enterprises
Bug, you are wrong. Historically, coastal tribes dried their catch and traded with inland tribes; historically, the fishers have given away their catch to those who cannot fish, especially elders. Freezer trucks are the modern equivalents. There is no such entity as "the tribes". Each is independent. Some have stronger governments and are well-run. Others are kleptocracies. Some have tight enforcement of their internal fishery regulations, while others give only lip service to their regulations. Work with well-run tribes. Show them the long-term economic benefits. They still may not cooperate; we can't force them directly.