Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by _WW_, Jun 17, 2013.
I will try to drive up from down here for that 8000+ !!!!!
This escapement number ought to shut up the critics who claim C&R' hurts the fish because it has a small amount of mortality. As has been pointed out, this years run is from the rather low-return 1998/1999 years broodstocks. Clearly, this data shows very convincingly that C&R has little to no impact on the fish since as William pointed out, we fished for the parents of this years return in very low-return years.
It is very maddening that NMFS took the quick and dirty, easy way with the summer steelhead in the Strait and Puget Sound rivers by saying they are one very large biologically significant unit. It is equally maddening that the top brass at WDFW allowed them to do so without putting up a fight.
And while the Skagit is closed to C&R (and the Samish as well for that matter) despite nearly meeting, meeting, or exceeding escapement goals, the Hoh River is open for catch and kill as one of the 5 rivers in Washington State that it is lawful to take an angler's single wild steelhead per year despite not coming close to escapement for years. This makes having the Skagit (and Samish) closed to C&R in the late winter/spring even more maddening.
I keep hoping that enough pressure will be brought to bear on WDFW that they will produce a plan for the Skagit watershed that clearly shows its steelhead should be managed as a distinct stock of fish and not included in the Strait, Puget Sound, Hood River mess NMFS now uses. Then we could have the wonderful late winter/spring C&R season once again.
The way to get WDFW to do anything about the Skagit is to keep this topic in front of them. The way to do that is to show up at the board meetings and tell them about it. At the last meeting we went to give the Occupy Skagit pitch on the Skagit they were impressed. If we can get a few more people to show up for their meeting we may be able to keep them impressed and possibly get something done.
No it isn't. But WDFW regulates our fishing, and is supposed to be our official advocate for recreational angling...and they welcome public comment during their commissioners meetings. Where else can we show up?
Is there a NOAA or NMFS meeting we can attend? I would be more than happy to go to one of those and comment.
I'm currently working on an island in the San Jauns. The place is an electronic wasteland and I'm there four days a week so maybe it is affecting my perspective. I find it ironic that the I-5 bridge was fixed in less than 30 days but it is going to take years to open the Skagit C&R season. In fact there will be an entirely new span across the river before Hiway 20 shuts down for the winter. This is the kind of shit that can get done with a little motivation!
I hope they install a sidewalk on it so we can wander out there next spring and watch thousands of steelhead swim under it.
The state of Washington ignored the DEA, perhaps it is time for them to ignore NOAA, NMFS, ESA, EPA, and who ever else is in the way of common sense and fair play.
Priorities. That's what it comes down to. An interstate highway is a BFD in the United States. It's essential to our commerce and way of life (not saying that it is right, just that it is.). The Skagit steelhead CNR season is barely a blip on WDFW's long list of obligations, duties, legal requirements, etc. And fisheries that are not even about harvest don't register at all on NMFS' radar screen. NMFS' major fisheries concerns are "reducing commercial overfishing" for the past decade, limiting by-catch of chinook in the massive ocean pollack fishery, and recovering ESA salmon and steelhead where actually killing and harvesting fish is the principle interest. Skagit steelhead CNR doesn't even rate a "huh? wassat?" above the lowest staff biologist levels dealing with PNW ESA issues. Oddly, certain PS treaty tribes are potentially among our most influencial allies since ESA steelhead constraints limit some of their salmon fishing. All of which is why I came to believe that OS makes sense and can serve a key role in getting a basin specific draft management plan endorsed by the co-managers and reviewed by NMFS and the TRT. And that is the key to re-opening the Skagit to steelhead fishing.
Thinking out loud here, but I wonder if anyone in the upper echelons of NOAA, NMFS, ESA, etc. can offer up a good explanation of how NOT fishing the Skagit is going to help the "recovery" of steelhead in the other Puget Sound drainages.
Which is what makes it even more frustrating!
It seems like such a small thing - an instant of mental clarity - a stroke of the pen -
"Huh? Wassat? C&R on thousands of fish? Yeah, yeah - sure whatever. What's next on the agenda?"
There you go WW, thinking it might be on the agenda. This is why I support OS. It's a means with a fair chance of making it happen. That, and treaty tribes whose salmon fishing is constrained by ESA steelhead impacts. Unfortunately, we are that small.
Thought some of you might find the following link interesting -
Some of the rivers with steelhead info included the Situk, Karluk, Afolynak, Ayalulik, and Dog Salmon
One theory is that as marine survivals improve for steelhead, Chinook etc here in Washington there will be a corresponding decline for north (Alaskan) stocks. While the Alaska data is a bit of mixed bag it looks like that we may indeed be on the cusp of changing a marine survival regime. Not only does it look like things are improving here (see recent Skagit counts) they may be declining up north. The kelt counts on the Situk the last 5 years are 65% of what they were the previous decade.
The next couple of years may be interesting and if you are planning on including the Situk on your bucket list you might want to go sooner than later.
A pebble is a small thing - until it gets into your shoe. Then it gets taken care of.
How do we become that pebble?
At least now we have a much better feel for who we need to influence next. If the NMFS is under the Department of Commerce, could our congressional delegation or our governor help influence the chain of command at the top? The benefit to the local economy as well as increased awareness and advocacy that would arise from a showcase fishery would both be arguments that could be made at that level.
OS becomes that pebble by drafting the Skagit steelhead mgt plan, circulating it among the co-managers and including all the necessary pieces. Then the co-managers re-submit it to our friends at NMFS and the TRT for review and ultimately, approval.
In theory that approach could work. What I expect from it tho is a lot of "we're looking into it, and we'll get back to you" and then never hearing back from whomever. Since OS has learned the pathway of the planning and approval process to where the buck finally stops, I think that is more likely to be effective.
Salmo, I'll draft one...what needs to be in it?
Is there some copy and paste documents to use as a templates?
For what it might be worth, there is this:
Find your legislator and start sending some emails. "Occupy" their inbox.
Follow this link and comment on the rule with the button at the top right:
Be sure to mention local businesses before jumping to basin specific allowable impacts, negligible C&R angling impact, etc. For inspiration read through the older Occupy Skagit threads. The comment period ends July 22. It would be nice to "Occupy" the comments section with a flood of responses.